Farmers are being urged to familiarise themselves with tenets of the Irish Beef Sector Agreement, especially in relation to obligations for beef processors.

The Beef Plan Movement is calling on farmers to keep in mind certain items of the September 15 agreement that govern farmers’ relationships with the processors.

Dermot O’Brien, the group’s south-west chairperson, said that there appears to be “no rush” from authorities to make farmers aware of these tenets of the agreement, with the result that farmers don’t know what they are entitled to under the agreement.

O’Brien highlighted that, under the agreement, farmers have the right to request written confirmation of the terms of sale when agreement is finalised with the processor.

He urged farmers to avail of this so that the number of animals slaughtered; the types of animals; and the dates of slaughter are recorded.

O’Brien commented that this was “key to tying down agreement and removes any ambiguity, confusion or argument when the animals are finally slaughtered and when the farmer is paid for their cattle”.

The second point for beef farmers to be aware of, according to O’Brien, is the ‘opt out’ option for paying insurance fees to the processor.

If [farmers] do not wish to allow a meat factory to take money from their factory cheques for insurance, then a farmer can now tell the factory not to do so.

The Beef Plan Movement is also urging farmers to weigh animals prior to slaughter, as “kill-out percentage cannot be accurately determined without knowledge of liveweights”.

The beef agreement states that processors must agree to provide weighing services at a nominal charge to the farmer.

The final point that the Beef Plan Movement is highlighting is that farmers have the right to see the carcass image after grading. Also, where manual grading is used, suppliers can appeal the grade; in the first instance to the factory, and if unsuccessful, then to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

O’Brien commented that “every farmer should implement [these tenets] to protect themselves”.

“Farmers should not feel deterred and must endeavour to implement them,” he concluded.

The Irish Beef Sector Agreement can be found here. The accompanying ‘Conclusions and next steps’ document from August 21 can be found here.