Beef sector reform agreement ‘worth supporting’ – Macra

The programme for reform of the beef sector, negotiated by parties involved in this weekends beef talks, has been welcomed by Macra na Feirme, which says the agreement is “worth supporting”.

Following talks at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Dublin between Minister Michael Creed, farmer organisations and Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the plan for reforming the sector was agreed today, Sunday, September 15.

Welcoming these developments, Thomas Duffy, the president of Macra Na Feirme, said: “Almost €24 million of new money into the pockets of struggling beef farmers is worth supporting. It has been a long and difficult series of talks over the past month. We particularly welcome the increases in bonus payments which will bring over 150,000 animals into bonus payment territory.

There are significant steps within the programme of reform which address issues of transparency and trust within the sector.  The creation of a Beef Market Taskforce, which it is hoped will provide leadership and ensure a viable future for the sector…must be welcomed.

“The commitments contained within the document are a welcome step forward.  We have consistently stated that with only weeks to the uncertainty of Brexit being inflicted upon us, it is imperative that we return to normal farmer-factory activities,” Duffy added.

He also thanked Minister Creed, his officials, and the various agencies and farmer organisations who took part in the talks.

The highlights of the proposals include a 66% increase from 12 cent to 20 cent in the current in-spec bonus payment, along with new bonus payments, including the immediate introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30 and 36 months, which meet all other non-age related existing in-spec criteria.

Similarly, a new in-spec bonus payment of 12c/kg for steers and heifers under 30 months in the categories of grade O- and fat score 4+ is in the pipeline.

The programme for reform includes the establishment of a Beef Market Taskforce to provide a governance structure to “enhance the future viability of the industry”.

Commitments have also been made in relation to implementing the EU Unfair Trading Practices Directive.