Agreement gives chance to ‘refocus beef sector on farmers’

The agreement reached today on reform of the beef sector offers a chance to “refocus the sector on a better deal for farmers”, according to the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Commenting on the conclusion of the talks, Pat McCormack, the association’s president, said “Progress has been made and it is now time – six weeks from Brexit – for the sector to come together and move forward as a unified whole.”

McCormack particularly welcomed the 12c/kg bonus on O- and 4+ cattle, saying that the establishment of a Beef Market Taskforce “must have as its starting point the delivery of adequate margins for the farmer primary-producer”.

For far too long, we have assumed that what was good for the wider agri-sector was necessarily good for the farmer.

“The beef sector is merely the most visible example where this concept is demonstrably not true, and agri-industry and food production has to be refocused so that the people doing the most work for the longest time get an adequate share of the final retail prices,” added the ICMSA president.

‘Interventions’

The agreement focuses on what it calls “immediate benefits” for farmers, which involve a number of ‘interventions’ for beef producers. Among these interventions are included, but not limited to:

  • The immediate introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30-36 months, which meet all non-age related existing in-spec criteria, and which up to now have not received any bonus;
  • An immediate increase of two thirds in the current in-spec for steers and heifers from 12c/kg to 20c/kg;
  • The introduction of a new in-spec bonus of 12c/kg for steers and heifers under-30 months in the categories of grade O- and fat score 4+ which currently does not qualify for any bonus;
  • The establishment of a Beef Market Taskforce.

Additionally, strand two of the agreement, entitled “Strategic Structural Reforms” sets out strategic measures which seek to address “structural imbalances” in the beef sector.

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