Beef finishers call for total overhaul of payment grid

Farmers at the ring at Headford mart cattle and sheep sale. Photo: Ray Ryan.
Farmers at the ring at Headford mart cattle and sheep sale. Photo: Ray Ryan.
Minister Michael Creed

Martin Ryan

Anger is deepening among beef finishers on the controversial 'four movements' limit for livestock, with demands for a complete reform of the payment grid.

Concerns have also been raised that maximum weights of 400kg are unacceptable for high quality suckler carcasses and making farming systems unviable.

Eamon Corley from the newly-established Beef Plan Group, who was a former member of the IFA National Livestock Committee, warned the four-movements limit was "anti-competitive".

Mr Corley estimated that the impact of the QPS on producers could be as much as 40c/kg, or around €250-175/hd on average.

His comments follow Agriculture Minister Michael Creed stating that the Quality Payment System (QPS) was introduced by agreement between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the IFA and the conditions for bonuses, including the limit on movements, was a "purely private arrangement" between both parties.

A Department spokesperson later stated: "Bonus payments and conditions associated with such bonus payments are commercial matters and the Department has no role in their design."

He pointed out the Minister had contacted Mr Healy-Rae and the IFA to clarify the recent statement.

In-spec bonus

However, the IFA claimed Minister Creed's initial comments were "highly misleading".

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An IFA spokesman stated there was a "fully open, robust and lengthy discussion" about the QPS in 2009, including debate in the Dail. The IFA stated the additional 'in-spec' bonus was introduced which paid farmers a top-up bonus, with meat factories stating these limits such as the movement rule were retailer led. It was pointed out that it does not include any carcass weight limit.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack said it is over three years since the Forum agreed to review the QPS and there is still "not a word about a start date or the makeup of any review body".

"There seems to be a reluctance to accept that mistakes were made and it's time to return to the drawing board."

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham said a complete reform was needed and an end to the four residencies rules. "We want to see the whole grid significantly simplified with better bonuses for U grade cattle, and lower prices for P grade cattle."

MII pointed out the in-spec bonus simply reflects the animals most desired for the marketplace. He stated figures show the vast majority of animals meet the four residency criterion.



Four movements limit 'anti-competitive' claims Beef Plan Group

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