4 movement rule ‘a private arrangement’ between MII and IFA

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has moved to distance himself and his department from an ongoing farm-level debate over the four movement rule of livestock between farms prior to slaughter.

Last Thursday (February 14), in response to a parliamentary question from independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae – who asked for the four movement rule to be removed – the minister clearly stated that his department is not responsible for the rule or its creation.

“A Quality Payment System (QPS) for the payment of bonuses in respect of certain categories of cattle at slaughter plants was introduced in 2009 by agreement between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

“My understanding is that the conditions attached to qualification for this bonus payment include a limit on the number of movements of cattle in their lifetime prior to slaughter.

This is a purely private arrangement between both parties and my department has no role in its design or implementation.

The Irish factory Quality Payment System (QPS) penalises more than four movements of livestock between farms prior to slaughter.

‘Market control measure’

The rule is reportedly in place for quality and animal welfare reasons, with factories contending that the basis for the restriction is consumer driven.

However, in March, 2016, a study carried out by the Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society (ICOS) found that UK retailers do not require the cattle residency and movement rules that the Irish meat industry demands of livestock farmers.

At the time, ICOS contended that there is “no factual basis” for the restriction as a “customer requirement”; instead ICOS described the rule as “simply being used as a market control measure”.