‘Factories using the Quality Payment System as a Quality Penalty System’

A new study has shown that UK retailers do not require the cattle residency and movement rules that the Irish meat industry demands of livestock farmers.

According to ICOS’s Mart Division, which carried out the study, measures enforced by Irish meat factories in their ‘Quality Payment System’ radically exceed the provisions of the Bord Bia Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme and are subverting the free trade of cattle in Ireland.

The Bord Bia Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme allows for multiple movements between quality assured farms before and during the final 70-day period prior to slaughter.

However, the Irish factory ‘bonus system’ penalises more than four movements of livestock between farms prior to slaughter, ostensibly for quality and animal welfare reasons.

Cattle that have moved farms in the last 70 days before slaughter are also penalised and don’t qualify for the Quality Payment System bonus, even if all farms are quality assured.

According to ICOS, the factories contend that the basis for their restrictions is consumer driven but it says there is no factual basis for this.

“The restrictions are simply being used as a market control measure,” it says.

Research by ICOS shows that UK retailers in general do not have a 70 day residency requirement. But the Irish meat factories insist it’s a ‘customer requirement’ and make it part of the Quality Payment System bonus scheme when no such requirement exists.

In December 2015, ICOS and Northern Ireland, UK and European marts organisations, met the Directorate General for Competition in Brussels to demand action on combined meat processor and multiple retailer dominance in the beef sector.

DG Competition asked for proof of restrictive practices. ICOS, the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) in England and the Institute of auctioneers and appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) engaged in formal correspondence to research this issue further with key retailers. Table 1 shows the findings:

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Michael Spellman, Chairman of ICOS National Marts Committee said the Quality Payment System is now 7 years old and it’s time to review it.

“The meat industry and farmers need to delete or modify parts of the Scheme that are either not working as intended or, that don’t have any basis in terms of real market demand,” he said.