Should 4 movement rule details appear on mart boards?

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has implied that the display of four movement rule information was not necessarily the intention of the department’s grant scheme for ringside screens.

He has said the display of such data “predates” the introduction of the department’s Mart Modernisation Grant Scheme.

In recent weeks, the minister has been in some choppy waters over remarks he made regarding the establishment and implementation of the restriction on the movement of livestock between farms prior to slaughter.

Under the rule – which many farmers previously assumed had been initiated by the department – steers and heifers grading within the shaded area are paid an extra 12c/kg if they are quality-assured and under 30 months old at slaughter.

Quality-assured cattle must be on the farms for at least 70 days before slaughter and must not have moved more than three times in their lifetime (i.e. four farm residencies). Those who exceed this limit lose their Quality Assurance (QA) Bonus.

In a written response to a query on the matter from Kerry independent TD Michael Healy-Rae, Minister Creed initially described the Quality Payment System (QPS) for the payment of bonuses in respect of certain categories of cattle at slaughter plants as “a purely private arrangement” introduced in 2009 by agreement between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

He also stressed that the department had “no role in its design or implementation”.

Push back

However, the IFA swiftly responded to the remarks stating that the minister’s choice of words were “highly misleading” and “incorrect”.

The IFA then stressed that there was a “fully open, robust and lengthy discussion” about the QPS prior to its implementation.

Subsequently, the minister contacted both the IFA and deputy Healy-Rae to clarify the initial comments he made – AgriLand is not aware that any apology or retraction was officially made.

However, just as the smoke appeared to have cleared, now fresh remarks from Minister Creed have raised the matter again.

In response to a further parliamentary question on the displaying of four movement rule information on mart boards from independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, Minister Creed outlined the background to the use of such technology ringside.

“Livestock marts play a critical role in the trade of animals in Ireland and it is essential that purchasers have the most up-to-date information to inform their buying decisions.

“In May 2016 I launched the Mart Modernisation Grant Scheme which provided €300,000 in funding for new ringside display screens at marts to view the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) star ratings for beef breeding stock.

The scheme was introduced to assist farmers in the purchase of breeding stock for participation in the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) to ensure compliance with the 4 and 5-star breeding requirements of the programme.

“The development of the four movement rule is a commercial matter in which neither I nor my department have any role.

“However, I understand that the display of this type of information predates the introduction of this scheme in 2016,” he said.