IFA refutes allegation of 'fake news' over beef grading machines

Beef grading machines produce a digital image of each carcass that passed through the machine, which set the grade achieved and, consequently, the price paid to the farmer.
Beef grading machines produce a digital image of each carcass that passed through the machine, which set the grade achieved and, consequently, the price paid to the farmer.

Martin Ryan

The IFA has strongly refuted the allegation of 'fake news' relating to their assertion that the new beef grading machines under trial will favour the processors.

IFA Livestock Chairman,  Angus Woods said that the trial conducted at Slaney Meats was expected to be "a direct comparison" between the old and new technology, but the discussions with the Department showed that had not been the case.

"We discovered in our discussions with them (Department  of Agriculture officials) that changing the equations was leading to a situation where the grade the farmer was going to get would slip by one-sixth of a sub class and that was not acceptable and should not happen - that in essence is where the situation is," he said.

Addressing more than 100 farmers at the IFA meeting on the Brexit Fund at the South Court Hotel, Limerick he accepted that the new technology in an improvement on the outdated machines in use, upgrading which the IFA had sought.

"What we did not look for and what was never stated was in the middle of those trials the Department officials would come along and try to change the equations used for grading the animals," he told the gathering.

"We are not going to agree to a situation where they took the unilateral decision to change the equations that were never part of the study that was being done.  It should have been a straight swap between the old machine and the new machine, and the Minister is going to have to address that," he stressed.

He said that farmers should have confidence in the system that they are getting the correct grade of their animals and tolerance in the older grading machines was too wide.

"We want the farmer to get the exact grade and not something near or something where on the average of 300 cattle a day the average is correct which is of no use to the farmer whose animal has been incorrectly graded," he said.

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He was responding to the reports that the IFA criticism of the trial results was "self-serving" and consisted of "fake news".

Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed has insisted “There is no proposal by the department published at this stage to change anything.”

He stressed that no matter has been finalised and alleging that the Department is skewing the grading system in favour of factories is basically not true.

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