The announcement today that the 30-month age limit for Irish beef exports to Japan has been removed is “a welcome step towards reducing processor specification requirements”, according to Joe Healy, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Healy, who travelled to Japan last week with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan for a trade mission, said the age restriction, and other “processor requirements” for the in-specification bonus, are causing “a lot of frustration amongst farmers”.

“The age limit originates from the BSE crisis and there is no veterinary reason for it to remain in place,” argued Healy.

The IFA president said that Jim Power, the economist who is leading the association’s review into the beef sector, was “independently verifying the extent to which the age requirement is still being demanded by retailers, particularly in the UK”.

“We need to do all we can to persuade buyers that the age limit and the other restrictions are no longer necessary, so that they can be removed from the requirements for the in-spec bonus,” said Healy.

The announcement of the removal of the rule was made today by Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

“I am pleased to announce that we have successfully changed the terms of the export health certificate for beef, so that the previous age restriction of under 30 months has been removed and beef from cattle of all ages are now eligible for export,” said the minister.

Minster Creed will travel to Japan for his own trade mission between June 10 and 12.