Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 October 2017

'Flood of cattle' hindering QPS revision says Bryan

Martin Ryan

IFA president John Bryan conceded that the association was "not happy" with elements of the quality pricing system (QPS) for beef cattle.

However, he said negotiations with the beef processors on changes to the grid had stalled due to the recent "flood of cattle" to factories.

There was not a single supporting voice for the QPS among more than 80 Limerick farmers who packed a county IFA executive meeting in Adare last week. Challenged with factual prices on the effect of the QPS on O grade animals, Mr Bryan strenuously denied that there was any net loss to beef producers.

The IFA leader maintained that there was widespread support among beef producers for the QPS, and he pointed out that O grade cattle prices in Ireland were among the highest in the EU.

But when the meeting rejected the payment system, he admitted that the IFA was "not happy either" and that the biggest obstacle to achieving change had been the recent flood of cattle to the factories.

Mr Bryan said that IFA wanted the concession on 4+ and 4= made permanent, O- stock to qualify for the Quality Assurance bonus, and the over-age penalty to apply only to animals over 36 months.

There were calls from the floor for the withdrawal of the grid and proper independent supervision of grading and weighing systems in the factories.

Mr Bryan said IFA was very disappointed with the current factory base price, which he described as "the real problem" in the beef sector. He said there was little hope of a significant increase in factory quotes until the supply dropped below 30,000hd/week.

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"Live exports have been very strong this year. I expect them to reach 350,0000hd, which together with a drop of 150,000hd in the cattle herd, will leave factories without 500,000hd of cattle in a couple of years and result in the closing of at least three plants," Mr Bryan predicted.

However, farmers warned that such a development would result in reduced competition in the processing sector and would not serve producers' interests.

Meanwhile, a call by the IFA's national council for a complete ban on media access to the Limerick branch's county executive meetings has been rejected.

Limerick county chairman Eddie Scanlan said national council members expressed "dismay and disappointment" at comments by ex-president, John Dillon, which undermined the IFA's work in campaigns on behalf of farmers.

National members also disapproved of having journalists present at the county executive meetings and reporting on the IFA's internal matters.

However, speakers at the Limerick meeting pointed out that the county executive had been well served by the media for more than 50 years, and the continued opportunity to have farmers' voices relayed to a wider audience was good for the association.

Irish Independent