The fundamental reforms of the beef industry that were asked for in the beef talks “have not been delivered”, according to the Beef Plan Movement.

A statement from the movement said: “The Beef Plan acknowledges that the changes that were achieved are only a small step forward for our beef sector and there is a lot of work to be done.

“It is because of the actions of our members and non-members who spent two weeks on the pickets that any of these developments have come about.

Progress was made on a number of individual points; however, the overall dysfunctional model remains and farmers remain vulnerable and open to exploitation.

Continuing, the statement from the Beef Plan said: “The question about where the money has gone was not addressed.

“Consumers are paying the same or more, and farmers are payed considerably less. Either processors or retailers are benefiting at farmers’ expense.”

Agreements reached

In a message circulated to Beef Plan members, it was outlined that there was agreement across the board that there is a need for a fully funded Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and to protect its share of the EU Budget, and ensure that the current level of direct payments to Irish beef farmers is protected.

There has been a strong position established for additional funding for targeted direct support for suckler cows, according to the Beef Plan.

It was agreed that Bord Bia will develop a beef market price index model. Members were informed in the message that it was also agreed that an independent grocery regulator is required.

On the Quality Payment System (QPS), it was agreed Teagasc will review the price differentials on the grid in the short term and undertake a full review in the longer term.

The review is to be completed by the end of September 2019, the message outlined to members.

In-spec bonus

Continuing, the message explained to Beef Plan members: “With regards to the criteria for the 12c/kg in-spec bonus, the factories proposed that aligned with the grid review by Teagasc (to be completed by end-September) the industry commits to reduce the 70-days residency period on the last farm to 60 days; and to broaden the in-spec bonus criteria to cover O- conformation and 4+ fat class for steers and heifers.

As requested within the Beef Plan’s 13 points, the Department of Agriculture agreed to introduce an appeal system for carcass classification in meat plants where there is manual grading only.

“Farmers will also have access to carcass images on request.”

Concluding, the message stressed that the Beef Plan Movement will continue to push these and other issues until they are extended to all plants countrywide.