'The 30-month age limit has to be scrapped'
The beef grid system has to go - and while the authorities are dismantling it, they can also scrap the 30-month age limit for selling cattle: that's the verdict of Tim MacRaith, a lifelong beef man from Garryspillane in Co Limerick.
He doesn't mince his words about the beef grid, which he says was flawed from day one of its introduction.
"It pays farmers the very minimum but if there is a scandal or a hint of a breach in the regulations, it is the farmers who are press-ganged into speaking up for the beef sector on the grounds that we could lose our foreign customers," says the 58-year-old farmer.
"An independent expert group, which would be acceptable and trusted by the beef farmers, needs to be set up to revamp the grid and ensure that farmers get a fair price for their cattle," he adds.
"Otherwise, MII [Meat Industry Ireland] and the beef processors are not going to pay a cent more than they have to under the present system."
Tim's 100-acre farm in Garryspillane has a fascinating history.
The MacRaiths were evicted from their home place in the late 1890s but persevered and bought the home place back for 630 old pounds.
Tim still has the purchase documents bearing the insignia of King George V. He intends to ensure the farm remains in the family for a few more generations. "I couldn't face the grandfather, father and uncle on the other side if I did anything else," he jokes.