The Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) has written letters to the presidents of three farm organisations asking them to “clarify positions” on the 30-month in-spec quality assurance rule.

In the letter, the group claims that certain farming organisations “failed to support” the IBLA’s calls to abolish the 30-month rule during the Beef Market Taskforce (two IBLA members, Dermot O’ Brien and Enda Fingleton, were representatives on the taskforce).

The IBLA has written to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan; Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack; and Macra na Feirme national president John Keane.

The group claimed that no processor, retailer or any other entity had given any evidence at the taskforce that meat from animals slaughtered at under-30 months was a requirement for consumers of Irish beef.

The IBLA went on to assert that, while beef from animals aged under-30 months at slaughter is a requirement to export to eight of the 70 countries Ireland sells beef to, there are no consumer surveys to suggest that consumers in those countries actually have an interest in the issue.

“No packaging in any retail outlet, butcher’s counter or food outlet advertises or labels beef as having come from an animal aged under-30 months. It is not a requirement and we would argue that it is an anti-competitive practice and a broken production model,” the letter states.

It went on to point out that Ireland is recognised as having a ‘negligible’ BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) status.

“It is environmentally sustainable to produce beef through a grass-fed system rather than from animals that are finished under-30 months on ingredients sourced from destinations outside of Ireland and as far away as South America.”

The IBLA also asserts that prices being paid at the moment by factory agents at marts are “by and large greater for heavier-fleshed animals exceeding 30 months, ahead of their counterparts under-30 months”, suggesting that processors are willing to abandon the rule in order to meet supply contracts.

The IBLA told the three farm leaders: “We note that support from [your organisation] was not available…for the abolition of the 30-month age limit at the beef taskforce and we now call on you as president of [your organisation] and as a Beef Taskforce Member to declare why [your organisation] failed to support the abolition of the rule.”