A group of approximately 25 protesters demonstrated outside Bord Bia headquarters in Dublin earlier today, Friday, November 1.

The group, who are members of the Independent Farmers of Ireland, and included a handful of representatives from Yellow Vest Ireland, were protesting this morning over what low beef price concerns.

The group had a list of demands which it displayed on banners outside the buildings today, including: “a removal of 30, 24 and 16-month age limits; a removal of the 70-day (now 60-day) residency period; a removal of the four-movement rule; an equal share of the market price; an equal share of the fifth quarter; and the promotion of grass-fed beef”.

Bord Bia responded to the demonstration by highlighting that it has no role in setting the requirements of the Quality Payment System (QPS), and reiterating its role in promoting Irish food internationally.

Protester views

Speaking to AgriLand, one of the protesters, Tom Egan, said: “The farmer is on the bottom end of the chain and he’s taken a bad price and he’s being driven out of business. It’s as simple as that.

“We intend keeping pressure on Government and Bord Bia to get the results we need that makes it more farmer friendly and that quality assured animals are fully rewarded for it.”

Another protester, Enda Lyons, said: “Farming in our area is not sustainable going forward.

“Most of the guys that are here are losing money. We’re producing beef that’s top-quality, prime product. They tell us it’s top quality, that it’s the best quality in the world – but we’re not getting paid for our product. We’re getting base price of €3.45/kg for cattle at the moment.”

Bord Bia ‘no role in setting requirements’

In a “frustrated” response to the protest today, the Irish food board reiterated its role and responsibilities within the beef industry.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Bord Bia staff listened to representatives of the group today for over 30 minutes and, again, outlined in detail our role in relation to the variety of issues raised by the group.

“Bord Bia’s role is to market and promote Irish food, drink and horticulture to customers worldwide and to monitor and maintain quality assurance and sustainability programmes.

“It is a simple fact that Bord Bia has no role in setting the requirements of the Quality Payment System (QPS).

The QPS is a meat processor bonus scheme rewarding farmers who produce to their specification. Bord Bia is not responsible for the meat plant bonus and has no influence on setting the criteria for the bonus. Bord Bia quality assurance status is only one element of several criteria set by each processing plant.

“Requirements for the ‘in-spec’ bonus around age, weight, grade, fat conformation, movements and 60 days residency on the final farm are set by meat factories and are outside of Bord Bia’s control,” the spokesperson said, adding that the board has no role in setting prices or in selling Irish beef.

Commenting on the under 30-month requirement set by factories, the Bord Bia representative said the organisation provided information at the beef talks held in September based on a survey of major retail and foodservice customers from both within Ireland and abroad, including UK and EU markets.

“The results showed that these accounts require approximately 750,000 under 30-month steers and heifers on an annual basis,” the spokesperson said.

It was noted, however, that the 30-month requirement is a necessity for “certain priority markets”, including China.

No date set yet for taskforce meeting

Meanwhile, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, no date has been set yet for a meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce.

A department spokesperson said that the chairman and department officials “continue to engage proactively with taskforce members with a view to enabling its important work to progress”.