A SENIOR meat industry figure has claimed that bulls could be included in the Quality Payment System (QPS) grid within two months.
Dawn Meat's Paul Nolan made the comments at the dairy-beef open day at Teagasc's Johnstown Castle last week.
Mr Nolan predicted that the changes could be introduced if the "right resolve" was behind the move.
"It was something that wasn't dealt with at the time the grid was being developed because relative to the volumes of steers, heifers and cows, bulls were quite small at the time," he said.
"But that has changed and there is no reason now why it can't be done."
However, Mr Nolan warned that there would need to be agreement on what type of animal would form the basis for the base price.
"If we take the Friesian bull as the base, we'd be looking at the Os or Ps, whereas a U-price base might be more appropriate for the continental types," he said.
Mr Nolan was hopeful that bulls could be incorporated into the grid by the end of the year and said that there was an appetite within the industry to make this happen, partly to ensure the right age of bull was being presented for slaughter.
Currently only bulls up to 16 months are wanted by supermarkets, but meat industry sources are hopeful that this age limit will be increased to 18 months by this time next year.
Meanwhile, a review of the QPS which was initiated almost a year ago, has yet to be concluded, the IFA has confirmed.
A spokesperson for the IFA said that "progress has been made on a number of issues", but declined to indicate when it was likely to be completed.
It has also been revealed that input into the review was confined to the IFA and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) representing the factories.
Submissions on the operation of the QPS, for consideration under the review, were not accepted from other farm organisations or interested parties.
An irate delegate at a meeting of the Limerick IFA county executive claimed that the review was going nowhere and that the process had effectively "been shelved".
A Limerick IFA official has also called on the IFA to have the mandatory penalty of 6c/kg on animals older than 30 months in the QPS amended.
The official called for the age at which the penalty was imposed to be increased to at least 36 months. Delegates maintained that the penalty was no longer justified.
The IFA spokesperson indicated that aspects of the QPS under review included "changes to fat class 4= and 4+" on which the temporary concessions granted early last year remain in place.
David Thompson, vice-chairman, Limerick IFA, called for the county executive to get clarification on the review of the QPS.
Mr Thompson said that the process appeared to be going nowhere and farmers believed that the review had been dropped by the IFA.
He said that the penalty on cattle older than 30 months was costing producers up to €4m a year and could no longer be justified.
He said the limit should be increased to at least 36 months. Such a move would be of significant benefit to producers selling cattle in the autumn.
Former IFA national livestock committee member Noel Woulfe said producers would require beef prices to hold strong this autumn because a lot of dear cattle had been bought by producers.
MII was contacted in relation to the QPS review but the organisation did not comment.