Farm bodies differ on dairy beef issues

Pat McCormack President of the ICMSA. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Pat McCormack President of the ICMSA. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Suggestions that beef from the dairy herd more readily met many of the current requirements in terms of cut sizes and quality than meat from continental stock has provoked a mixed reaction from the farm bodies.

Dawn Meats executive Richard Booth was quoted last week as stating that the correct dairy genetics delivered carcase weights that the market was demanding.

And when crossed with beef breeds such as Angus, that dairy stock could produce beef which marbled better than that from some continentals.

However, Mr Booth bemoaned the variability in the quality and size of dairy carcases and pointed to the 13kg drop in the average carcase weight in recent years.

Responding to the remarks, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said they raised some very pertinent issues for beef processors.

"Where retailers have indicated that in some cases they actively prefer dairy beef over suckler-bred, why are the factories still operating and supporting a price grid that specifically discriminates against animals coming from the dairy side?" Mr McCormack asked.

"We currently have a grid that won't recognise that a growing percentage of the overall kill is coming from the dairy side, and we now have an admission from a senior beef processor executive that dairy beef is now seen by the retailers as having specific advantages," Mr McCormack added.

"Against that reality why are we still using a grid that operates on the basis of the exact opposite position?"

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Mr McCormack claimed that Mr Booth's comments punctured the "myth" that increased numbers of dairy stock were to blame for collapsing margins and returns in the beef sector.

However, IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods pointed out that quality beef from the suckler herd was essential to winning premium-priced consumer markets in the UK and continental Europe.

"The suckler herd is intrinsic to all our marketing and promotion of Irish beef in premium markets," Mr Woods claimed.

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