How much is the latest beef agreement worth to farmers?

The details of the agreement struck between stakeholders in the beef sector over the weekend is worth an extra €23 million to Irish beef farmers, according to Bord Bia beef sector manager Joe Burke.

The sector manager was speaking in a panel discussion with presenter Claire Mc Cormack, alongside Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture chairman Pat Deering and Irish Farmers’ Association Kildare county chairman and vice presidential candidate Brian Rushe.

Burke outlined the benefits that will be brought to beef farmers under the agreement, highlighting the beef market taskforce, which he said “is going to bring about better transparency, better understanding of market situations and conditions as well too, by producers, and right across the supply chain”.

However, he stressed that what farmers will be focused on is the financial benefit for producers.

“There is a very definite benefit there, in terms of a higher proportion of animals which are going to be receiving bonuses.

“When we actually analyse the data, 50% of the steers and heifers that were being slaughtered up until now were in receipt of the in-spec bonus; so under-30 month, quality assured and also meeting the other criteria for the bonus as well.

This new agreement means that now over 70% of steers and heifers slaughtered are going to get a bonus.

“First of all, there is the in-spec bonus which previously existed; that has been expanded to 20c/kg – so it has increased by 66%,” Burke highlighted.

He added that two other bonuses are also of note: “There will be 12c/kg for O- and 4+ sub-grades and there will be 8c/kg for animals that are over 30 months – that are 30-36 months but still satisfying the quality assurance and the other in-spec criteria.

“So overall, the benefit of this, you can see it there for certain animals, it’s an additional €30-40/animal; it’s an extra 8c that they weren’t previously getting for the O- and 4+ animals; it’s up to €40 and €50/animal because that’s 12c/kg.

When we added it up on the additional animals and the higher bonuses as well being paid; based on 2018 numbers and slaughter figures, this represents an additional €23 million, or even more than that, in terms of the extra value of this payment over the round of the year.

“So it is significant and I think it’s one that certainly bears very, very strong consideration by all of the different parties involved in order to properly understand it and to be able to articulate those benefits then back to the farmers.”