Serious lessons must be learned from last year where the factories and retailers took full advantage of the 150,000 head increase in cattle numbers and played havoc with prices and specifications, according to IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns.

Speaking at the IFA AGM this week, he told the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that he must insist that the Beef Forum delivers for farmers and it is the Minister’s responsibility as Chairman to ensure that the outcomes agreed are properly implemented.

Burns said the Beef Forum must deliver on full market price transparency, more competition and that the factories must fairly pass back market returns in cattle prices back to farmers.

He said the age limit must be lifted from 30 to 36 months as set down in the forum. In addition, he said the Department of Agriculture must increase the level of checks on carcase trim in each meat plan as agreed at the Forum and the AIMS system for counting the number of farm residencies must be changed.

“Minister Coveney must challenge the factories on their less than honest effort to introduce a worthwhile incentive on steers and heifers from quality assurance farms.”

Burns also said a strong live export trade is crucial to maximise price competition and to avoid a repeat of the marketing problems that damaged livestock farmers’ incomes in 2014.

According to Burns a major IFA campaign on suckler support secured an increase in the Beef Genomic Scheme to €100/head for the first 10 cows and €80/head on the remainder, worth €52m.

“The IFA is very clear that all sucklers applied for must be paid on,” he said.

The IFA Livestock leader said strong direct supports are essential to maintain the national suckler herd and IFA will push for a higher payment per cow in the order of €200.