Feedlots in the firing line as TDs call for shake-up of beef sector
Review of QPS and securing EU quality mark for suckler beef also on the agenda
A review of feedlots' impact on the trade and securing an EU quality mark for Irish suckler beef are among the key proposals in a new report on the beef industry.
Details of the report, seen by the Farming Independent, propose a major shake-up of the sector.
The report, from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, published today also calls for:
- the exclusion of beef products from the EU's Free Trade Agreement with Mercosur
- a review of the Quality Payment System (QPS) and associated grading practices
- taking steps to implement the EU's Unfair Trading Practices Directive on food prices
- a dedicated live export section to be established in the Department of Agriculture.
- Live exporters set up an association to represent their interests
- Pursues the establishment of a more detailed Meat Market Observatory at EU level.
- Directs funding to research to improve sexed semen techniques
- Endeavours to ensure that the concerns of all stakeholders are considered in the formulation of Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan.
While the report says there are no "silver bullet" solutions to solving the beef sector's problems, the committee says its recommendations will assist in "empowering producers" and help "ensure they are in a position to extract a fairer price from the high-quality products they produce".
The committee also says it is necessary to review the progress of Food Wise 2025 to date, given that the strategy has nearly reached its mid-point.
And members of the committee are understood to believe there is real concern with regard to the levels of profitability of primary producers in the beef sector.
On feedlots, the committee recommends a review to establish their potential adverse impact on the beef sector.
According to Bord Bia data, there are 580 farms that slaughter more than 300 cattle per year.
However, other sources claim that at least 10pc - and maybe up to the 20pc - of our beef comes from feedlots.
Meat Industry Ireland estimates that less than 5pc of feedlots are controlled by factories.
The committee recommends that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine seeks Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) - an EU quality stamp - for Irish suckler beef as a priority, to help market it more effectively.
It also calls on the Department of Agriculture to engage on a cross-departmental level with the farming, environmental and scientific communities to develop a plan for the agricultural sector to align it with meeting Ireland’s Paris Agreement commitment.
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