Business Farming

Saturday 1 October 2016

Weights and age limits are 'back with a bang'

Farmers being cut by 20c/kg for over-age or over-weight cattle in factories

Published 02/02/2016 | 02:30

Patrick Kent
Patrick Kent

Beef farmers are losing out on their "fair share" of prices because of weight limits as low as 400kgs and the 30-month age limits, a farm body has warned.

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Irish cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent said Beef Forum discussions had failed to tackle the issues and already farmers were seeing the consequences of an over-supply of cattle.

"Age limits are back with a bang," said Mr Kent at last week's ICSA AGM. "We are seeing lots of farmers being cut 20c/kg for cattle marginally over-age and overweight," Mr Kent said.

"These weights are totally unworkable in the continental bred sucklers and they take away any chance of the beef finisher making a margin."

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney told the meeting that the consensus reached at the Beef Forum in 2014 had ended. "We got an agreement for a 12 month period that actually weights wouldn't be used as a penalising factor at all. Unfortunately, that has now come to an end."

Mr Coveney said he was "sick to death" of having to accept that farmers were "price takers". He highlighted the new producer organisations that allow groups of farmers negotiate directly with processors as an alternative for sellers.

Elections

He pledged to look at ways to provide more support for the sheep sector as part of the CAP mid-term review.

However, he insisted there is "no new money" and schemes would have to come as part of the €4bn rural development programme as part of the mid-term review.

He urged people not to be taken in by "cheap promises" during the general election campaign, adding that he had heard promises for €200 per head extra for the suckler sector without any details on where the funding would be sourced.

Fianna Fail agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív, who also addressed the event, admitted it would be difficult to get the monies. However, he said there was going to a minimum underspend of €300m on schemes such as GLAS, TAMS and genomics and these funds could revert to farm schemes.

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