Numbers of quality cattle making top grade at lowest for a decade
The percentage of prime beef cattle making strong grades at the factories has plummeted to the lowest in more than a decade, with the fall-off costing producers millions in lower prices.
One in every eight of the beef steer kill for the first half of 2017 were P grade and almost two in every three steers were classified O or P grades an analysis by the Farming Independent of composite national classification figures reveals.
Producers supplying continental beef animals to the factories have described grading as being "fierce tough", and have called an immediate review of the Quality Pricing System (QPS).
An independent appeals system for farmers on grading and extra supervision at the factories by the Department of Agriculture is also being demanded.
The penalty on P grade is over €100/hd less than base price for the typical weight steer.
Official grading returns, released by the Department of Agriculture, confirm that there has been a 100pc increase in P grade steers compared to the same period in 2012.
O grade animals are up by 20pc, and R and U grade have declined by 35pc and 26pc respectively.
The official figures reveal that more than 20pc of the entire steers supplied over the six months were classified P grade at four individual factories.