Farmers to be compensated when a carcase is excessively trimmed
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said he understands a payment will be made to a farmer in any case where a trim fine was applied to a particular carcase.

In cases where a carcase has been excessively trimmed, it is understood that the farmer affected will be informed by the factory and the farmer will be compensated.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said it was his understanding that “processors will introduce a payment to the farmer supplier to reflect any loss”.

It comes following revelations that 19 non-compliances in relation to carcase trimming were detected in the course of 521 inspections by the Department of Agriculture in 2018.

Minister Creed said a payment would be made to a farmer in any case where a trim fine was applied to a particular carcase. The payment will be identified on the payment remittance docket, so that farmers will be aware of the penalty.

Dialogue

The minister said positive engagement through ongoing dialogue with the industry, both within the Beef Forum and directly with Meat Industry Ireland (MII), had played an important role.

He said that he understood MII accepted “no individual farmer should be at a loss from a mistake made in a factory” and as a result the payment would be introduced.

Transparency

During Dáil questions, Minister Creed was asked by Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture Charlie McConalogue whether he would name the factories fined to ensure transparency in the process.

Minister Creed said identifying a payment made to a farmer as a result of one of their carcases being excessively trimmed would provide "the ultimate accountability".

He added that additional monitoring of beef carcases was on its way. “Carcase classification and carcase presentation controls in slaughter plants are carried out by a dedicated team of specialist staff in the beef carcase classification sSection within my Department," he said.

"Additional monitoring of carcase presentation by my Department’s veterinary public health inspection staff (VPHIS) in the factories is currently being rolled out.”

Fines

On the matter of fines imposed on processors for excessive trimming, Minister Creed said a €200 on-the-spot fine had been applied.

While the maximum fine that can be imposed is €5,000 or a six-month term of imprisonment he explained this could only be applied on summary conviction.

He said: “Recourse to this approach would preclude the possibility of an on-the-spot fine and conviction would require proof of intention beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Focus on beef sector challenges and prospects at Galway event
A beef-focused event on Friday, organised for farmers in the west, will focus on the current state of the beef industry and what the future might hold.

The current situation in the beef industry situation and what the future holds for beef farmers will be discussed at the event in Glenamaddy, Co Galway.

Councillor Peter Keaveney is holding a beef information event for farmers in the Galway, Mayo and Roscommon regions on Friday 15 February.

The event is set to take place in Glenamaddy Community Centre and will begin at 8pm sharp.

Several industry specialists are lined up to speak at the event, including Darren Carty, livestock specialist with the Irish Farmers Journal, CAP and Brexit correspondent Phelim O’Neill from the Irish Farmers Journal and Teagasc adviser Gabriel Trayers.

According to Cllr Keaveney, the event will aim to address the current uncertainty beef farmers are facing, to inform farmers on where the beef industry currently stands and to look at the future of the industry.

Speaking ahead of the event, Cllr Keaveney said: “I wanted to organise an event that would bring the beef farmer up to date with what our industry is facing, inform farmers on where our main markets are, the possible effects Brexit may have on us here in the west of Ireland, what the reform of the new CAP may look like, and finally the alternatives to the suckler cow, with a focus on contract rearing and calf to beef.”

The event is free and all are welcome on the night.

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Farmers lobby TDs on beef price crisis
Representatives from 26 counties gathered in Dublin to lobby politicians at an event organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association.

The struggle for finishers to get bulls slaughtered was to the fore of issues raised by beef farmers protesting outside Dáil Éireann on Wednesday.

Representatives from 26 counties gathered to lobby politicians at an event organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Laois IFA chair Francis Gorman said farmers were receiving prices as low as €3.30/kg for bulls and that finishers were at breaking point.

Pat Deering, chair of the Oireactas agricultural committee said its members will undertake an analysis of the future of the beef industry, given the ongoing crisis.

Sucklers

The importance of the suckler herd was highlighted to Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry by IFA representatives from western counties.

JP Cowley, Sligo IFA chair, said that without the suckler herd the west of Ireland would experience mass abandonment.

Crowley also said the decline of the suckler herd should be a concern, not just for the farmers, but also the wider rural community.

Brexit

Brexit was also to the fore, as the UK’s date of departure from the EU draws closer.

The IFA called on Government to deliver a post-Brexit aid package similar to one Baltic countries received following the Russian import ban.

In a conversation between farmers James Bennett and Richard Scally and Fine Gael’s Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, it was highlighted that current beef intervention is ineffective as it requires prices to fall to €2.20/kg.

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Suckler cow conference taking place in Mayo
Conor Sampson spoke to John Noonan ahead of Teagasc's suckler cow conference, taking place at the Breaffy House hotel on 12 February at 7pm.

Teagasc is set to host a spring suckler cow conference tomorrow in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

The KT-approved (Knowledge Transfer) beef event is running from 7pm until to 9pm at the Breaffy House Hotel.

Grass utilisation, the BEEP scheme and beef market prospects will be covered at the event.

Among the speakers is John Noonan, Teagasc's business and technology adviser in Mayo. Ahead of the event, Noonan told the Irish Farmers Journal that farmers must “look at ways of making their enterprises more profitable by reducing costs”.

Noonan will be informing farmers at the event about how they can improve grass utilisation through soil fertility management, early turnout dates for stock and the use of paddock systems. He believes these strategies are under-used and could boost productivity on many suckler farms.

The use of Body Condition Scoring (BCS) as a management tool will be covered at the event by UCDs Alan Kelly. He will discuss feeding suckler cows, pre- and post-calving, and the savings which can be made by managing a cow’s BCS over the winter months.

Chris Daly, ICBF, will also be speaking at the event. Daly will outline the details of the new BEEP scheme and why suckler farmers should consider joining it. He will also give an update on ICBF programmes, including star ratings and an outline of new dates for evaluation runs.

Current market prospects for beef will be highlighted by Paul Nolan of Dawn Meats. He will discuss where beef markets are now, where they will be going forward and the market specifications involved.

According to John Noonan, the take-home message from the event is that suckler farmers must remain resilient: “It’s a huge decision to decide to get out of suckler farming. I would encourage all suckler farmers to stick with it.”