Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

ICMSA chief launches scathing attack on cattle pricing system

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The ICMSA has again called for the quality payment system (QPS) for cattle to be overhauled.

Association president Jackie Cahill said the grid has not been accepted by the majority of farmers as being "proper and fair".

Mr Cahill also claimed the pricing system had caused unnecessary controversy and had "massively undermined confidence among farmers producing cattle".

"Farmers are demanding that we return to the drawing boards and get the basics right. There should be fairness and transparency in the system," he said.

Saying that the grid had "achieved nothing positive", Mr Cahill said that its introduction meant experienced beef producers were struggling to accurately value their cattle.

"We've ended up with what is by far the most complex price grid in Europe, but prices that are among the lowest in Europe," Mr Cahill said.

The ICMSA leader has proposed that a pricing system similar to that operated in Scotland should be considered here.

"I believe that the kind of beef price grid that operates in Scotland, which effectively groups cattle under three prices, has a lot of merit and would usefully form the basis of a substantially modified price grid for Ireland.

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"Last week, I formally proposed this to all meat plant operators.

"It is important to note that the Scottish system produces a product which is viewed as being a premier product within one of our more important markets, the UK," Mr Cahill pointed out.

He argued that with fewer subsections in the Scottish grading system, it was simpler and more transparent for farmers while still allowing premium prices to be paid.

"I agree that quality cattle have to be paid for, but the current system doesn't allow farmers or agents to put a value on stock," Mr Cahill said.

"If there was a live shipping option for forward stores at the moment, they'd be very few cattle going on for finishing."

Irish Independent