Beef grid changes must ‘reflect dairy expansion’ – ICSA

A “complete overhaul” of the beef grid is needed, and it must reflect the “impact of dairy expansion”, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Edmond Phelan, the association’s president, called for a simplification of the grid, arguing that it is no longer “price neutral”.

Phelan was speaking ahead of a further round of talks between farmer organisations and processors, which were due to get underway this morning, Monday, August 19.

The grid needs to be simplified. There is no question that better bonuses can be paid for U grades as well as R+ grades without any further deductions on lower grade cattle.

“The grid was devised to be price neutral. However, the fact that the grid is no longer price neutral is clear for all to see,” said Phelan.

He also argued that dairy expansion has had an impact on the general grade of cattle.

“Factories are cleaning up on deductions on lower grade cattle because of the increasing numbers of lower grade cattle since the grid was introduced 10 years ago,” Phelan outlined.

The dairy expansion has caused this, and the grid must reflect these changes.

A review of the beef grid system was one of the proposals that was agreed during the first round of talks, which kicked-off last Monday, August 12.

Among the other proposals put forward were: a review of insurance policies in factories; and a review of the formal contractual arrangements between factory agents and the farmer where quotations are concerned.

The talks follow on from a nationwide series of protests, spearheaded by the Beef Plan Movement, at meat plants throughout the country.