‘Premium payments under QA system should be available to all who adhere’

Changes are required to ensure that all beef farmers who adhere to quality assurance criteria receive a premium in their payments, according to Fianna Fail’s Spokesperson on Food and Horticulture, Jackie Cahill.

A number of beef farmers who feel that the current system is unfair have been in contact with the Fianna Fail spokesperson.

Commenting on the issue, Cahill acknowledged the importance of Bord Bia’s quality assurance requirements.

“No one disputes the value of this, as it ensures top-quality beef products for consumers. In the context of Brexit, quality assurance is now even more important than before,” he said.

Cahill pointed out how farmers must adhere to a rigid inspection process, which underpins quality assurance. He believes, because of the additional costs that farmers incur as a result of quality assurance, farmers should receive a premium for their product.

There is a major anomaly in the system whereby meat from slaughtered cows, and meat from cattle at grades O- and P, are not entitled to receive a premium in their payments – even though they go through the same QA processes as the other grades.

“It’s unfair, to say the least, that only certain grades are eligible to get the premium,” stated Cahill.

Mentioning how one of Ireland’s largest fast food retailers uses the fact that its burgers are all made from quality assured Irish beef to great marketing effect, Cahill reiterated that only certain grades of animals that are slaughtered are quality assurance accredited.

“Initially, I believe that a reduced premium payment should be offered to secure the income streams for farmers affected, and allow them invest in their farms and their futures,” he said.

There should be no disparity between payments to farmers who adhere to quality assurance requirements.

“The current situation does nothing but add further pressure onto farmers who are struggling to get by,” concluded Cahill.