Scrap grading to save suckler sector: ICSA
Processors urged to 'move into the 21st century' and base payments on meat yields
A phasing out of the current cattle grading system and a move to payment based on meat yield is being sought by the ICSA.
The drystock farmers' body has challenged Ireland's beef industry "to move into the 21st century" and reward farmers by paying for the lean meat their slaughtered cattle deliver.
This radical overhaul of beef payments is being sought against a background of falling factory prices and growing anger among beef producers, as processors continue to quote as low as €3.75/kg for steers.
ICSA president Patrick Kent claimed that the current factory grading machines were outdated, the current beef grid and payment system was not trusted by farmers, and suckler cow numbers were in danger of collapsing due to abysmal farmer returns.
"Payment on meat yield is the single most important strategy that could reinvigorate the struggling suckler sector," Mr Kent said. "If we want sucklers, we need to deliver prices that reflect the cost of the system. Suckler-bred animals are not getting the bonus that they deserve under the current [payment] system," he added.
ICSA is calling for payment on meat yield to move centre stage at the Beef Forum, and the association has invited the beef breed societies to contribute to the debate.
Moving to a meat yield system of paying for cattle would necessitate the replacement of the country's analogue factory grading technology with more precise digital equipment that could accurately calculate the lean meat content of carcasses.
ICSA said the existing factory grading machines were outdated and this had been highlighted at last month's International Congress of Meat Science and Technology in Cork. Mr Kent said that farmer dissatisfaction with the current beef grid needed to be accepted and addressed by the beef industry.