Processors ‘must follow through on commitment’ to install weighing scales – ICSA

Processors “must follow through on their commitment to supply liveweight information to farmers”, according to Edmund Graham, beef chairman of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

“Under the terms of the Irish Beef Sector Agreement, meat processors gave an undertaking that they would install weighing scales at plants so that farmers could get accurate information on the liveweight of their cattle,” Graham said.

“To date, this has not been done.”

Graham said that the Beef Market Taskforce needs to ensure that any measures agreed at the taskforce “are carried out and carried out in a timely manner”.

He continued:

We are at risk of farmers losing all confidence in the process if the processors can get away with procrastinating at every step along the way.

“The Department of Agriculture has highlighted the importance of weighing cattle with schemes such as the Beef Data and Genomics Programme [BDGP], the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme [BEEP] and a new €5 million initiative for weighing dairy calves.

“Now, we just need meat factories to play their part and deliver on their pledge to install these scales.”

Minister confirms €5 million for ‘dairy calf-to-beef scheme’

The €5 million initiative referred to by the ICSA is that announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue as part of Budget 2021.

The minister said at a press briefing this week: “We’ve identified an additional €5 million for a dairy calf-to-beef scheme, to support the better integration of the dairy progeny into the beef sector.

We will have a big focus in the years ahead to ensure that the male progeny in particular that come off the dairy herd are fit for beef, and have beef credentials.

“This scheme, this €5 million, will be a welcome support in that regard, and also a welcome indicator that we want, as a policy direction, to very much ensure that the beef characteristics of [dairy calves] are something that can be profitable,” the minister added.

Outlining what kind of actions will be necessary under the scheme, Minister McConalogue explained: “It’s going to be for the weighing of dairy calves… We can build up further information on the weight gain, and improve the beef genetics of calves coming off the dairy herd.

€5 million is a significant contribution towards that. Certainly, it also speaks to the need over the years ahead to ensure priority is given to the beef credentials of calves coming off the dairy herd, [so it is] a profitable enterprise in terms of rearing them.

“It is something I will be engaging with the dairy sector on to ensure it is emphasised,” Minister McConalogue added.