Beef Plan: The progress made to date on its 13 points

The Beef Plan Movement has detailed the progress it has made to date in the key beef stakeholder talks that took place on Monday, August 12.

The talks began at 2:00pm on Monday, and lasted for more than 12 hours between MII and farm organisations including: the Beef Plan Movement; the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA); the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA); the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA); the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA); and Macra na Feirme.

Ahead of the discussions, the movement outlined 13 key issues it seeks to have remedied that it believes are affecting the wider beef and sheep industry.

The claimed issues identified by the group are as follows:
  1. “The use of an upper age limit to influence the price offered for steers and heifers;
  2. The use of an upper age limit to influence the price offered for young bulls;
  3. “The use of an upper limit of herd-to-herd movements to influence the price offered;
  4. “70 days single farm residency required for recognition as a Bord Bia quality-assured animal;
  5. “Carcass weights threshold for cattle and sheep changed without reasonable notice period;
  6. “Excessive trim being taken from carcass (cattle and sheep);
  7. “Excessive trim influencing carcass grade assigned by mechanical grading machines;
  8. “No independent manual grade appeals process;
  9. “QPS grid price differentiation between grades;
  10. “All terms of business not clearly provided by a processor;
  11. “Agents working for more than one processor;
  12. “Insurance paid by farmers for animals delivered to processors;
  13. “EID sheep tags.”

Following the conclusion of the talks, the Beef Plan provided an update to its 13 points, reflecting the progress made to date on them ahead of the next round of discussions, scheduled for this Monday, August 19.

In relation to points 1, 2 and 4, during the meeting, MII confirmed that the base price applies to all animals regardless of age.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture committed to provide data on the share of kill under 30 and 36 months, and estimated share of beef from those categories.

In addition, Bord Bia agreed to provide data on an estimated proportion of Irish beef for customers and markets that demand under-30 months by updating a previous review of market and customer requirements.

Regarding point 2, on young bulls, it was noted by the Beef Plan that this was not discussed in detail during the meeting. MII indicated that the 16-month age limit was due to meat-eating quality.

Beef Plan decided to follow up on the matter once facts on meat eating “have been established”.

In terms of point 5, changing of thresholds, MII agreed during talks that its members will give a minimum of four months’ notice for changing weight limits.

On point 6, excessive trim involved a request for animals to be weighed live prior to slaughter; following consultation, yesterday evening, MII said that its members will commit to provide this lairage weighing service on request, at a nominal charge.

On point 7, seeking carcass images from classification on request is currently in progress, according to the movement; a system for imagery will be determined and stakeholders will be informed of this by Friday, August 16.

The Department of Agriculture is to examine the feasibility of the appeals system, point number 8, by Friday, while point 9, a review of the QPS grid price differentiation, is to have draft terms of reference circulated by this Friday also.

The terms of reference are to be agreed by stakeholders by the following Friday, August 23.

On point 10, seeking written binding quote sheets required MII member consultation; yesterday, MII said that, where agreement is finalised between the processor and individual supplier on the terms of sale, this can be confirmed in writing, where requested.

The exact mechanism will be decided by individual processors.

On point 11, agents working for more than one processor, stakeholders were informed, is a matter for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The Beef Plan is to take this to the CCPC directly.

On the twelfth point, on insurance paid by farmers for animals delivered to processors, the department agreed to provide data on animals condemned at ante or post mortem examination by this Friday; in addition, MII is to provide details of current insurance schemes.

MII also confirmed that farmers can opt out of the scheme.

Finally, on the last point, EID sheep tags, it was decided that no further action is to be taken as it is understood that sheep from outside the state are also EID tagged.

Stakeholders will resume discussions at the next round of talks, where Friday’s expected information will be discussed, on Monday, August 19.