Beef Plan: ‘IFA protest at Aldi is regrettable’

Beef Plan Movement has weighed in on the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) decision to stage a protest blocking access to Aldi’s distribution centre in Naas, Co. Kildare.

The statement acknowledged the right of “each and every farmer” to protest, collectively or individually.

However, according to Beef Plan’s statement, the action taking place outside Aldi’s distribution centre this morning, Thursday, December 5, “is regrettable”.

The statement highlighted that Aldi has come out openly in support of Irish beef farmers during the past week and has undertaken to work with the Beef Market Taskforce and to “maintain open and transparent dialogue” with Irish beef farmers.

Most other retailers have failed to acknowledge correspondence from the organisation on behalf of Irish beef farmers, while Aldi has been forthcoming.

The statement questioned: “Why has the IFA chosen to protest outside a retailer, who has given a firm commitment to work with and support Irish beef farmers?”

Continuing, Beef Plan confirmed it is “the first farm organisation to explain the Quality Payment Scheme (QPS) in detail to Aldi”.

“Aldi has met with Beef Plan Movement and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) in recent weeks in support of farmers.

“The consequences of the 30-month upper age limit, four-movement rule and other specifications are anti-competitive and in the opinion of Beef Plan Movement are used as a mechanism by meat processors to control supply and price paid to farmers for their beef.”

QPS and rules debate

The Beef Plan statement outlined that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, previously stated that QPS requirements “are sought by retailers” and Minister Creed confirmed in the Dáil last year that the four-movement rule and 30-month age limit are “private arrangements” between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the IFA.

“Therefore, certain QPS requirements have been arranged outside of retailer remit. The IFA and MII introduced the QPS in 2009.

Beef Plan Movement would like for these QPS requirements to be removed, as they are restrictive and control price paid to primary producers.

Furthermore, it stated that Lidl announced during the factory-gate protests last summer that it does not require under 30-month beef and quoted the following statement that was reported by this publication at the time.

“I can confirm that Lidl’s requirement allows for beef derived from animals up to 36 months old and our minimum certification requirement is for Bord Bia Quality Assured beef under the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme.”

Concluding, Beef Plan stressed that the 30-month slaughter rule had been introduced in 2001 as a countermeasure to BSE and the rules had been changed across 15 other EU states in 2009. It said that “there is no valid retail requirement for the 30-month rule”.