QPS revamp key demand at beef forum
A revamp of the Quality Payment System (QPS), commitment on future 'spec' changes, and the full implementation of outcomes were all key demands being touted by farm organisations in advance of tomorrow's Beef Roundtable meeting.
With Minister Simon Coveney committing to remain as chairman of the industry forum at the IFA AGM last week, the association's livestock chairman Henry Burns said that it was the Minister's responsibility to ensure that the commitments agreed were followed through.
While Minister Coveney has stated that he will fully facilitate the live trade, farm leaders have demanded that he do more to prevent factories unilaterally charging QPS specifications.
"At the very least, farmers should be given an 18-month lead-in before any changes in age limits or weights are imposed," said the ICSA president, Patrick Kent.
"We've seen all the under 16 month and 420kg carcass weight demands laid down by the beef factories last year evaporate in recent weeks.
"And yet at the time, they assured us that the changes were down to consumer demands," said Mr Kent.
The recent rowing back on those spec changes proves that these were simply a fiction concocted to convince farmers," he added.
Organisations representing beef from the dairy herd, such as the ICMSA, are pushing for the 30- and 36-month age limits to be eliminated.
The ICMSA's livestock chairman, Michael Guinan, said that 36 month limit is a big issue for dairy beef producers.
"With the abolition of milk quotas in April, meat processors need to think long and hard how they can convince dairy farmers to continue to produce cattle suitable for their markets.
Quota abolition will be a game-changer in this regard and the meat processors will be very foolish if they continue to ignore this fact," said Mr Guinan.
Both the ICMSA and the ICSA will also be pushing for a complete revamp of the QPS that was introduced some years ago with the support of the IFA.
The ICSA have called for the option of a flat-rate payment to be reintroduced into the system.
The farm bodies are united in their demand for a better quality assurance bonus, following the factories' proposal to pay a €3/hd top-up on all cattle from quality assured herds.
However, cattle qualifying for the quality assurance bonus at the moment net €12/hd.
"Farmers rightly view the €3 bonus introduced on January 1 as being utterly inadequate and not reflective at all of the benefit to meats processors of these cattle being quality assured.
"Along with the 36 months issue, dairy farmers were hammered under the beef price grid in terms of penalties and the grid has led to utter confusion for many farmers," said the ICMSA leader.
"The commitment to review the grid in the first six months of 2015 is certainly positive but the mechanism for the review and the delivery of real and substantive changes is absolutely essential to begin to restore farmers confidence in the beef sector," added Mr Guinan.
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