Sunday 25 September 2016

Minister Coveney rules out QPS role

Martin Ryan

Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney TD (left) with (L-R) Eddie Downey, IFA President, Pat Smith, IFA Gen Sec and Michael Biggins, IFA. Photo: Maxwells/Julien Behal
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney TD (left) with (L-R) Eddie Downey, IFA President, Pat Smith, IFA Gen Sec and Michael Biggins, IFA. Photo: Maxwells/Julien Behal

THE Minister for Agriculture has ruled out any role for himself or his Department in resolving the deadlock surrounding the review of the Quality Pricing System (QPS) committed to under the Beef Roundtable forum.

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Minister Coveney has instead challenged the farming organisations to rescue the review from its deadlock, despite admitting that a consensus would be "difficult".

"The establishment of the grid was a complex matter and not all stakeholders, including farm bodies, were ad idem on its objectives," said the Minister in response to a Dáil question.

"It is the responsibility of the beef processing industry and farming organisations to discuss the QPS and formulate the methodology of any review. It is their agreement and therefore it must be their review," he said.

The forum's commitment to have the review completed by June now seems very unlikely to be delivered.

Minister Coveney also rejected any suggestion that it was his department's responsibility to deliver on the Beef Forum commitment.

"My Department did not engage in the design of the QPS as it is a commercial matter between farmers and processors. It would be inappropriate for me or my Department to take a lead role in a review of the pricing mechanism for beef," he said in response to a question from Sinn Fein's Martin Ferris.

He added that the QPS reflected the fact that Irish beef must supply diverse markets, and that the sale of high quality product will continue to be a central part of beef marketing strategy

Questions about who would lead the review of the pricing system first emerged in March when both the Department and Teagasc rejected any responsibility for tackling the issue, as agreed at the November meeting of the Forum.

ICMSA president John Comer wrote to Minister Coveney and Teagasc outlining his concern that the process would stall indefinitely without an immediate review.

The IFA stated that it was "very determined" that Minister Coveney deliver on the full implementation of the issues agreed at the Beef Forum.

A spokesperson for ICSA also expressed concern at the lack of leadership to tackle the key issues facing the industry.

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