Market spec’ for beef has not changed, says Meat Industry Ireland

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has today said that the overall market specifications for quality assured Irish beef have not changed.

Its remarks come in response to comments made on Tuesday night at the IFA beef meeting, by Padraig Browne of Dunbia Meats, that farmers could be forced to produce finished beef steers as young as 14 months. He stated if Irish farmers and processors can’t supply beef at this age, someone else will.

UK farmers, Padraig said, are producing bull beef at 16 month in the UK and retailers there will want steer beef under 24 months by 2020. “It’s a competition driven business and if we don’t do it someone else will. We have to work with them.”

However Meat Industry Ireland has said that the comments made at the meeting were in the context of a reflection regarding the longer term trend in the marketplace that animals are finished at younger ages.

It stressed that for the foreseeable future there are no changes to specifications. It said the Guidelines on Target Market Specification issued by MII earlier this year remain in place.

In addition, MII confirmed that it is working on a comprehensive response to the Dowling recommendations and will be issuing this response in the near future.

Action

Meanwhile ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that the ‘softly-softly’ approach to retailers and meat processors is clearly not working, and that the time has come for decisive action.

“Only a strong, united response to this crisis is going to work now,” said Patrick. “ICSA is again calling on all farmers and farm organisations to consider withdrawing from the Quality Assured Scheme. We need to send a clear, unequivocal message to processors and retailers that farmers will not be bullied.”

“What is the use of the Quality Assured Scheme if it is simply being used to penalise farmers? We are now hearing suggestions of another round of arbitrary changes to specifications, including a further lowering of the age limit for bull beef from 16 months to 14 months or lower. It is clear that processors are using threats like this as a precursor to a further cut in beef prices, and there is nothing in the Quality Assured Scheme to protect farmers from this.”

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