Tuesday 17 September 2019

Beef industry talks conclude with some agreement but price still an issue

While the dispute over prices paid for beef continues, some agreements have been made on other issues.

The deal agreed included commitments to review how cattle are graded (PA)
The deal agreed included commitments to review how cattle are graded (PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Talks to resolve a dispute between farmers and Meat Industry Ireland has ended with a deal reached in a number of areas.

While the row over beef prices continues, an agreement between the two groups was made on several issues affecting farmers selling beef cattle.

The crisis talks, which ran into a third day, ended in the early hours of Wednesday.

The deal agreed included commitments to review how cattle are graded, including the publication of an expert report on new technology in mechanical carcass classification.

It could also see up to 200,000 additional cattle qualifying for payments.

Beef farmers will be disappointed that there is no increase in beef price because that is what is important to them IFA president Joe Healy

Representatives from farmers’ group Beef Plan Movement said they would consider the document with their members.

Speaking after the talks ended, Agriculture minister Michael Creed said: “After long and detailed negotiations, stakeholders have reached agreement on a wide range of very significant issues.

“Progress was made on important initiatives aimed at improving transparency along the supply chain, and improving communication between industry and farmers”

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack said: “The talks have concluded with an air of uncertainty on whether anything will be delivered for beef farmers.

“We wanted O- grades and 4+ fat score cattle to qualify immediately for the quality bonus.

“Delaying this until the end of September means farmers will lose out on up to 250,000 euro on cattle slaughtered in August and September.”

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy told the Irish Farmers Journal: “Beef farmers will be disappointed that there is no increase in beef price because that is what is important to them.

“They will wake up tomorrow getting the same base price as they were.”

Issues that have been agreed between all the sides involved include:

– A review of the grid;

– A further review of the in-spec criteria for the quality payment system bonus;

– Availability of carcass images;

– An appeals system for carcass classification in manually grading factories;

– Publication of an expert report on new technology in mechanical carcass
classification;

– Promotional initiatives for the beef sector;

– Market transparency initiatives, including more detailed price reporting, and the transposition of the EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices

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