150,000 cattle face impact of weight restrictions
Factories are being accused of attempting to claw back the increases in the bonuses agreed as part of the recent beef agreement by imposing tough new weight limits on finishers.
Payouts on over 150,000 cattle annual could be impacted by the moves, according to the IFA.
IFA president Joe Healy said the move by the factories on weight limits is a clear move to counter the improved in-spec bonuses that were part of the recent beef agreement with Minister Michael Creed.
"The weight limits cuts are very much targeted at the top-quality U and R grading cattle from the suckler herd and these are the cattle that benefit from the positive price differentials in the QPS. The weight limits seriously erode this," he said.
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Based on 2018 data from the Department of Agriculture, 12.14pc of steers or 78,889 head and 2.46pc of heifers or 11,595 are over 420kg. On young bulls, 34pc or 68,418 head are over 400kg.
Mr Healy said IFA has consistently objected to the imposition of weight limits as they were never part of the QPS (Quality Payment System).
"IFA has raised this breach of the agreement by the factories with the Beef Taskforce chairman and the Department, requesting Minister Creed to put his foot down and pull the factories back into line," he said.
Responding to questions from the Farming Independent in relation to their engagement with the Beef Taskforce, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said the initiative was just one part of the Beef Sector Agreement.
"Another major part was the introduction of new and increased bonus payments under the QPS, and these have already been implemented by MII members," MII said.
It highlighted that it is estimated that over the course of a year, close to 250,000 additional cattle will receive bonuses, meaning that over 70pc of steers and heifers will benefit with an overall value of new and increased bonuses amounting to €24m per annum.
"Despite the fact that the MII delegation was physically and aggressively blocked from attending the inaugural meeting of the Taskforce, MII will continue to work on other aspects of the Beef Sector Agreement and has engaged with the Beef Taskforce chairman and secretariat bilaterally since then," MII added.
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