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IFA, MII to meet over grid

Talks on changes to the new beef pricing grid are to be held between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the IFA this week.

It is understood that the parties will discuss a range of issues regarding the operation of the system, which was introduced over the Christmas period.

IFA president John Bryan has admitted that alterations to the scheme are necessary.

Mr Bryan wants the base price to permanently apply to 4= stock -- this adjustment was conceded by the processors for January only -- and he said more accommodation is necessary for heifers and heavy steers.

"It is is no one's interest to create traps within the grid," Mr Bryan said.

He pointed out that heifers laid down fat differently to steers and this should be reflected in payments.

Mr Bryan added that several lucrative beef contracts required heavy cattle, and suppliers of this type of stock could not be penalised when outlets were available for them.

Meanwhile, the ICMSA has described the grid as a mechanism to allow factories to subsidise higher prices for premium stock by slashing the prices paid for dairy cross cattle.

The milk suppliers' body claimed that the prices paid on the grid were "unverifiable and un-checkable", and that the payment system was "designed to discriminate against animals from the dairy herd".

ICMSA representatives met officials of the Livestock Producer and Suppliers Association last Friday in Portlaoise and both sides agreed that the new price grid would lead to lower prices being paid to farmers.

An ICMSA official questioned if the grid was part of a wider agenda whereby continental-type cattle will be paid a premium in an effort to stop the Italian live export trade, with that premium being effectively subsidised through lower prices for dairy-cross animals.

Irish Independent