Monday 26 September 2016

Weighty issues for beef forum

Martin Ryan

Published 09/12/2015 | 02:30

ICMSA's Edmond Phelan
ICMSA's Edmond Phelan

Weight and age issues will be centre stage at the next beef forum which looks set to be a heated affair.

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Pressure is mounting for a breakthrough in the deadlock on a review of the beef classification grid to be agreed between all the farm bodies.

The demand intensified following the introduction of a simplified 15 point classification grid at ABP meat processing plants in the UK in recent weeks. ABP has confirmed it will not be introduced in Ireland.

Farmers have reported a number of plants are currently making it difficult for finishers to get cattle over 420kg carcase weight killed.

In recent weeks' the Farming Independent's Ringside has found some factories are also imposing a 10c/kg penalty on cattle over 36 months, with others bringing this in at 30 months.

"Weight issues will be back on the stage at the beef forum," said the ICSA's general secretary Eddie Punch.

"Meat factories have started to impose some limits and we don't know what the limits will be.

"That will be problematic for people buying weanlings or stores to feed into a decent weight.

"If you can't feed into a big weight then it curtails the economy of it. If you have lower weight limits you have to have a higher price."

The ICSA's beef chair Edmond Phelan said in addition to the 30 month age limit, the forum also needs to look at the price differential between Irish and UK beef, while the IFA has also called for the price differential between cattle on both sides of the Irish Sea to be addressed.

The ICMSA beef chairman Michael Guinan said a review was urgently needed.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he will facilitate discussions and provide a neutral chair if the forum decide they want to review the grid.

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