Achieving consensus at the Beef Forum on the review the Quality Payments System (QPS) the pricing mechanism for beef may be difficult, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The November round table discussions resulted in a comprehensive agreed package of measures to further develop the beef sector and included commitments for all parties including processors, farm organisations, my Department and various state agencies.

One of the outcomes of the November round table discussions was a commitment by the relevant stakeholders to review the Quality Payments System or QPS.

The QPS was devised in 2010 between the processing industry and farming organisations.

Minister Coveney has said this week that it is the responsibility of the beef processing industry and farming organisations to discuss the QPS and formulate the methodology of any review.

“It is their agreement and therefore it must be their review,” he said.

The Minister said his Department did not engage in the design of the QPS as it is a commercial matter between farmers and processors.

“It would be inappropriate for me or my Department to take a lead role in a review of the pricing mechanism for beef.

“As chairperson of the Beef Roundtable discussions, I would encourage those parties to decide now how they wish to proceed,” he said.

Minister Coveney said he has offered the assistance of Teagasc who can provide any technical input required, if requested to do so by the relevant parties.

The QPS has formed an integral part of beef production in Ireland since its introduction, he said.

“I strongly support its core principle of price differentiation based on quality, taking conformation scores and fat content into account.

“Any change to the QPS must be carefully considered and take account of the national scope of its impact. The continued positioning of Irish beef as a high quality product on EU and international markets must be a key consideration.”

Current QPS grid

Current QPS grid

According to the Minister while Irish beef must supply a diversity of markets, the sale of high quality product from beef breeds will continue to be a central part of any market strategy designed to deliver maximum value to Irish farmers.

The QPS was designed by agreement between farmers and processors to reflect that dynamic, he said.

“The establishment of the grid was a complex matter and not all stakeholders, including farm bodies, were ad idem on its objectives.

“It may be equally difficult to achieve consensus in any review.”