ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has outlined key requirements for the new and improved beef price reporting proposed by Minister Coveney as part of an effort to ensure that there is greater price transparency for farmers. 

According to Mr Phelan, the current figures available are averages for each grade and category of animal. “However, this does not supply enough information about what is really going on. We need to know the full range of prices paid by factories each week including the special deals available to very big feedlot operators.”

He said that there was also an urgent need to see the proportion of cattle actually receiving a quality assurance bonus as well as the cuts applied to non-quality assured cattle. “While we know that a large majority of cattle being supplied are coming from quality assured farms, it is likely that only a minority of the total cattle kill each week is actually getting a bonus. This is due to factors such as bulls and cows not being eligible, overage cattle not being eligible, lower conformation grades not being eligible and cattle being ruled out because they have been bought in a mart within the previous 70 days.”

“Farmers are outraged that the quality assurance scheme has been manipulated and while the 12c bonus sounds good, we need to see how many cattle are really getting it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IFA told Michael Dowling, Beef Activation Group Chairman, that putting profit back into beef production must be at the heart of any recommendations brought forward.

IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns set said we need to see price benchmarking and transparency that ensures Irish farmers are getting full market price for their stock. “Specifications cannot be open to change at the whim of factory bosses. The system has to accommodate our grass-based production systems and suckler cow herd. It must also incentivise rather than penalise producers for meeting Quality Assurance and market spec requirements.”