The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney, has called for full implementation of the Beef Forum agreement on time.

“After a very difficult 2014 for beef farmers, stakeholders have worked hard to reach agreement on a range of market specification and other issues addressing their concerns.

“We now have a basis, through the agreement reached at the Beef forum on November 12, 2014, and the improvement in prices since then, to begin to restore some confidence to a sector which has struggled in 2014.  This is critically important if we wish to refocus our attention on the very many strategic challenges facing the sector.”

The Minister’s announcement comes after IFA President Eddie Downey said he had raised a number of issues with the Minister where some meat plants have imposed dual base prices around non Quality Assured stock and weight penalties contrary to what was agreed at the Beef Forum.

“Processors agree there will be no dual base pricing for steers or heifers in individual processing plants, by breed, age or weight or Quality Assurance status,” the IFA President said. “Processors will agree not to impose any price penalties on any animals based on weight up to 31st December 2015.”

The Minister said that any delay in implementing the provisions of the agreement can only serve to undermine both the forum process and the fragile confidence beginning to emerge after a significant dispute which adversely affected the sector and following prolonged and difficult discussions.

“The provision of a single base price was a critical element of the agreement and processors have agreed that there will be no dual base pricing for steers and heifers in individual plants regardless of breed, age, weight or quality assurance status. This is an essential element in ensuring that farmers have confidence in the transparency and clarity of the pricing system.”

He said his Department and the State Agencies are working to deliver on various elements of the agreement. “I am calling on the industry to deliver on its commitments on specification issues and to provide a period of stability so that we can move on at the next forum to focus on the strategic issues facing the sector.”

The next round of the Beef Forum is due to take place in late January, but no date has been set yet.