Farm Ireland

Tuesday 26 March 2019

IFA says Minister 'incorrect' to call four-movement rule a 'purely private arrangement'

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

IFA has described as “highly misleading” and “incorrect” the use of the term “a purely private arrangement” which was used by the Minister for Agriculture to describe the four movement rule or any other specification criteria applied by the meat plants.

It comes after the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said the Quality Payment System (QPS) for the payment of bonuses in respect of certain categories of cattle at slaughter plants was introduced by way of agreement between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).

Answering questions from Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, the Minister said his understanding is that the conditions attached to qualification for this bonus payment include a limit on the number of movements of cattle in their lifetime prior to slaughter.

"This is a purely private arrangement between both parties and my Department has no role in its design or processor is paid an administrative fee for collecting the levy."

However, according to the IFA, the introduction of the Quality Payment System (QPS) was a public matter, which included debate in Dail Eireann at the time.

"The QPS was introduced in 2009 in order to reward farmers for producing quality. This moved away from the old flat pricing structure and is based on scientific research by Teagasc. It rewards farmers for higher meat yield and does not include any carcass weight limit.

"There was a fully open, robust and lengthy discussion about this at the time. As part of the QPS system, an additional ‘in-specification’ bonus was introduced which paid farmers a top-up bonus (then 6c per kg, now 12c per kg) for satisfying a number of market requirements, including coming from a quality assured herd. The bonus specifications were fully transparent at the time and have been published weekly since 2009.

"At the time, the meat factories claimed these specifications were being demanded by retailers, buyers and consumers, a claim they continue to make.

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"At the end of last year, the IFA engaged Economist Jim Power to look at certain aspects of the beef sector. As part of this, he is independently investigating the extent to which, the claims made by factories regarding specifications are still being demanded by retailers and buyers."

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