Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 November 2018

Stop running down beef quality from dairy herds, says Comer

John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association. Photo: Keith Heneghan
John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Martin Ryan

Beef produced from the country's dairy herd has been robustly defended as a "quality" product as battle lines are drawn over the future direction of the male offspring from the expanding sector.

The outgoing ICMSA president John Comer, who runs a 50-cow dairy herd and 100 head of cattle for beef in Co Mayo, told the Association AGM in Limerick that beef from the dairy herd is as good quality as beef from the suckler herd. However, he repeated the ICMSA's strong criticism of the grading system at factories.

He claimed those running down the "quality" of beef from the dairy herd are "misleading people", while he blamed the grid system for the deterioration in grading results at the factories.

Mr Comer said there has finally been an awakening to the fact that the grades achieved by cattle at the factories are showing a disimprovement.

"I deliberately use the word 'grades' because some people chose to use the word 'quality' which is totally misleading," he added. "The Beef Grid has played a considerable negative role in relation to grades and its dwindling number of promoters need to recognise this and amend it accordingly," he challenged.

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said that the role of the Quality Assurance Scheme has become misrepresented in relation to the bonus on cattle at the factories. It came amid farmers criticising that they were promised a "price increase for Bord Bia Assured beef" which they feel did not happen.

"There is confusion on the bonus that is being paid - it is an in-spec bonus - it is not a Bord Bia bonus although it has become known as a Bord Bia bonus which it is not," he said.

"We are only one part of the criteria that is used, but we get hammered on a regular basis from that confusion

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"We are part of the in-spec analysis - they must be part of the quality assurance - but there are many other criteria which effect that bonus, which are part of the commercial decisions between the processors and the farmers," she told the meeting.

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