‘Beef Plan’ meets Bord Bia to ‘voice farmer frustration’

A delegation from the Beef Plan Movement met with representatives from Bord Bia recently to voice “the level of frustration” among beef farmers at present.

The feedback from ‘Beef Plan’ meetings that have taken place around the country over the last six months were brought to the table at the sit-down which took place last Thursday, March 7.

The engagement between the sides followed the first official meeting between the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and the movement.

According to a statement from the movement, concerns around the €0.12/kg bonus payment to in-spec cattle were discussed “in detail”.

The statement also outlined that Bord Bia “acknowledged” that there is “significant discontent” among some farmers with regards to the “non-payment of this bonus to Quality Assurance (QA) accredited farmers”.

According to the movement, the Irish Food Board explained that QA accreditation is just one strand of the Quality Payment Scheme (QPS) bonus and that the other specifications had been agreed between other parties and “are not Bord Bia specifications”.

The applicability of the QPS grid was also discussed, with a specific focus on “downward changes” in the grading of beef cattle since its introduction in 2009.

The Beef Plan Movement also asked for the market specifications to be re-assessed “as a matter of urgency” with all stakeholders involved.

Issues surrounding live cattle exports were discussed and some potential solutions were suggested.

Opportunities for collaboration between the two sides were said to be explored with Bord Bia offering assistance and advice to the movement.

Representatives for the group stated after the meeting that they were “very happy” with the engagement and they stated that a channel of communication had been opened which will “hopefully prove to be mutually beneficial”.

Bord Bia were very collaborative as they have been in all communications to date – all parties must work together with the shared goal of improving the current situation for beef farmers.

Representatives at the meeting from the Beef Plan Movement included: Eamon Corley, chairman; Hugh Doyle, vice chairman; Eoin Donnelly; and Willie McCormack.

The Bord Bia delegation included: Tara McCarthy, CEO; Padraig Brennan, director of meat and consumer food sectors; Michael Maloney, director of quality assurance and sustainability; Michael Houlihan, manager of farm assurance schemes; Joe Burke, beef and livestock sector manager; and Alice McGlynn, accreditation and policy manager.