Beef Plan calls for review of QPS and greater increments for premium cattle

Eamon Corley addresses farmers at a previous meeting in Holycross
Eamon Corley addresses farmers at a previous meeting in Holycross
Stock photo.

The Beef Plan Movement has sent a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, calling for a review of the QPS grid.

The submission calls for a full appraisal of the current QPS grid to simplify it and have greater increments for premium cattle.

The group says the QPS has failed in its original intention and that high quality carcasses from the suckler herd are under-priced.

A spokesperson for the group said says a full review of the QPS (commonly called QA) bonus and its association with the associated “market” specifications is also needed.

"The landscape has changed considerably since 2009. There has been a significant decline in steers obtaining R grade over this period with it being 44pc in 2009 compared to 30pc in 2018.

"For this reason, the review is necessary to reflect current throughput with respect to grades, fat scores and animal type compared to when the grid was introduced."

The group says quality cattle presented with increased meat yield must be rewarded commensurate with the quality of the animal.

"However, the QPS cannot and should not be used as a means of severely penalising producers of lesser grade animals."

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Cattle Marketability

The group goes on to say that some practices are severely limiting marketability of finished cattle all require re-assessment and the validity of these specifications and practices that are now in place require a full review.

A spokesperson said the ones impacting the QPS bonus requiring review are;

  • Farm residency - four movement rule
  • Farm residency - 70-day retention period to collect QA
  • Age limits, 30 months for steers and heifers and 16 months for bulls. Having these age limits works against Ireland's competitive advantage which is grass fed production as supplementation is required for continental cattle to “finish” before 30 months. The introduction of this dates back to BSE and is no longer relevant.

In its submission, the group is also calling for other current practices and regulations to be reviewed, including rules around so-called 'nomad' cattle, the 125km CAT 1 Waste transport rule and factory owned or controlled feedlots.

It also says that excessive trimming of carcasses and grading machines failing to meet pre-defined tolerance must be tackled and that transparency needs to be improved to build the relationship between the beef processors and beef producers.

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