The EUROP beef grid is ‘not reflective of market requirements today’

It has been pointed out that the current EUROP grid is “probably not reflective of market requirements today”.

President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack also said that Meat Industry Ireland (MII) needs to clarify “what exactly is happening in relation to reports that meat plants are considering reviewing the beef grid and incorporate research and other views into any proposed reform or review”.

McCormack continued: “Like all farmers, I’ve seen the reports hinting that the long-awaited review might actually be coming forward.”

He added that the ICMSA rejects the idea that the factories themselves can, as it were, ‘review their own prices’.

The ICMSA believes that three aspects, at least, have to be incorporated:
  • All beef producers must be made aware of what is being considered;
  • There must be full consultation on any changes being considered;
  • MII will have to provide the market and scientific basis for any changes.

“The last grid was introduced effectively without the notice or consultation of farmers; it was over complex and designed to disadvantage farmers. This can’t happen again when it’s reviewed,” said Mr. McCormack.

Continuing, the ICMSA president said that the meat plants appear to be focused “only on increasing price differentials with the likely result that more animals will be penalised to give additional bonuses to a smaller number of animals”.

He said that the ICMSA would “vigorously” question the market and the sustainability basis of such a decision.

The ICMSA’s firm stance is that any review of the beef grid must involve simplification, a reduction in the number of categories, the payment of the Quality Assured (QA) bonus on all cattle coming from QA herds and a grid structure that reflects Irish beef production today.

“The present beef grid has undermined farmers’ confidence in the beef sector and changes need to be made.

“However, the changes need to be carefully considered and not tweaks that effectively compound already existing defects; like this idea that the differentials need to be widened which is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done,” concluded McCormack.