Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said that changes to the Quality Assured bonus must not see farmers who are supplying in-spec animals being dis-incentivised.

An agreed outcome from the Roundtable is the implementation of a targeted, cost neutral price incentive for all steers and heifers (which do not already qualify for the in-spec bonus) from Quality Assured (QA) farms with effect from January 1, it says.

Meat Industry Ireland said its members remain fully committed to the Beef Roundtable process.

Speaking in relation to this QA incentive, MII Chairman, Ciaran Fitzgerald, advised that MII members are exploring the various potential cost-neutral options available.

“Any cost-neutral incentive will essentially involve a re-distribution of existing funds which makes the exercise very challenging. MII members are aiming to meet the January 1 commitment but at the same time it is important that the outcome ensures that those producers, who are supplying in-spec animals which meet the market requirements, are being sufficiently incentivised.

“It is essential that any policies in relation to Irish beef production must ultimately focus on the ongoing marketability of Irish beef,” he said.

Fitzgerald said that it is important to note that the implementation of this new QA incentive (for those steers/heifers which do not meet the main in-spec criteria but are from Bord Bia QA farms) will essentially be a redistribution of current funds to allow for this new bonus to be paid to farmers, he said.

“These are funds that are already in the system and hence the implementation date will not affect the overall revenue paid to producers.

“Furthermore, it should also be noted that cattle prices have moved on significantly in the last number of weeks with Irish cattle prices now at almost 105% of the EU average. This is a very strong performance given that we export 95% of our product to these markets where the consumer preference is for the local product.” he said.