Majority of steers fail to make basic grade
Almost two out of every three steers being slaughtered at the beef export plants are now failing to make the base classification grades, the latest official figures have revealed.
The grading results were compiled from the Department of Agriculture figures on the entire throughput of steers at the export factories between July 1 and September 30, 2017, which was an excellent production period for beef animals.
The grading was carried out on more than 200,000 head of steers supplied during the third quarter of 2017. The results showed that 61pc of the steers slaughtered over the period had failed to make any of the base price grades which ranges from R=/2+ to R-/4=.
On a typical 350kg carcase, the penalty varies between 12c/kg and 36c/kg, reducing the return to producers by between €42 and €126/hd, with the poorer grading also adding to a further reduction of €42/hd under the in-spec bonus for some categories.
The ICMSA have called for factories to supply farmers with a digitised image of the carcase for each of the animals on the day of slaughter.
ICMSA beef chairman Michael Guinan said the drop in grades cannot be explained “simply in terms of the increased dairy influence” adding that “there is ongoing disquiet around the accuracy of grading machines themselves”.
He said the “ images of the carcases should be provided to the farmer on the day of slaughter” along with images of animals making the specific grades for comparison.
Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly has called for an “overhaul” of the grading system, describing farmers as “totally frustrated” with the system of grading.