Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

'Quality Assurance payments should be available to all farmers who adhere to criteria'

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Changes are required to ensure that all beef farmers who adhere to quality assurance criteria receive a premium in their payments, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Food and Horticulture, Jackie Cahill.

Deputy Cahill was commenting on the issue after receiving representations from a number of beef farmers who feel that the current system is unfair on them.

He says all farmers have to adhere to Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance requirements if they want to sell into the big processors.

"No one disputes the value of this as it ensures top quality beef products for consumers.

"In the context of Brexit, Quality Assurance is now even more important than before," he said.

Under the Bord Bia, Quality Assurance Scheme farmers must adhere to a rigid inspection process, which under pins the scheme, and according to Cahill because of the additional costs that farmers incur as a result of QA, that this brings to their business, they should receive a premium for their product.

“However, there is a major anomaly in the system whereby meat from slaughtered cows, and meat from cattle at grades O- and P are not entitled to receive a premium in their payments even though they go through the same QA processes as the other grades.

“All farmers incur a significant cost in adhering to quality assurance criteria, but it’s unfair to say the least that only certain grades are eligible to get the premium.

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“Meat processors and retailers make a virtue out of the fact that their products are quality assured. One of Ireland’s largest fast food retailers uses the fact that its burgers are all made from quality assured Irish beef to great marketing effect.

“However, as only certain grades of animals that are slaughtered are quality assurance accredited. Many farmers who invested don’t receive a premium payment.

“Initially, I believe that a reduced premium payment should be offered to secure the income streams for farmers affected, and allow them invest in their farms and their futures.

“There should be no disparity between payments to farmers who adhere to quality assurance requirements. It does nothing but add further pressure onto farmers who are struggling to get by,” Cahill said.

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