Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed efforts made by the beef industry in the north to resolve the current issue of cattle residencies and improve communication and co-operation within the supply chain.

“I want to see a sustainable, profitable and integrated beef industry here, and I have been concerned about the potential impact of the significant penalties imposed.

“I have engaged with and listened to farmers, processors, marts operators and the LMC. I have also asked the meat plants to reconsider their position on penalties.”

She said it is a positive step forward that the NILAA has agreed that marts will have the discretion to display information on farm residencies. “I hope to see processors significantly reducing penalties on cattle with over four farm residencies to the end of the year as proposed, which will help farmers through this challenging time.

“I am very encouraged that all elements of the beef supply chain are committed to working together to address the current difficulties for the benefit of the industry as a whole and I’m hopeful that we are now close to a resolution on these issues which have been causing such concern to the industry.”

She also praised the LMC for its role in seeking an agreed outcome and said that DARD would work with the marts regarding access to information.

“I acknowledge the proactive role played by the LMC in trying to find an agreed approach on the way forward and welcome the protocol that has been tabled by the LMC and the positive reaction from the beef supply chain.

“My Department is willing to work with herd-keepers and marts to explore how information about cattle residencies could be accessed as simply as possible and has already commenced work to bring about changes to APHIS. To assist herd-keepers immediately, and until residencies can be displayed electronically in markets, my Department will provide a report to the keeper on request, listing all animals in the keeper’s herd. This report provides keepers with the full movement history for their herd and can be obtained from local DARD Direct Offices.”