Independent TD Denis Naughten is calling for an “urgent” change to the legislation around factory grading machines.
Currently the standards are governed by EU legislation which requires them to meet a minimum 60% accuracy rate on fat and conformation.
In response to a parliamentary question from deputy Naughten, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue pointed out: “The average performance for conformation in Ireland in 2019 was 93.3% and 95.1% for fat cover. To date in 2020, average performance for conformation is 93.3% and 95.6% for fat cover”.
However, Naughten believes that as the machines can achieve over a 90% accuracy rate that the minimum 60% level should be increase to improve accuracy rate.
“The Departmental defence for such a tolerance is that it can also grade to the benefit of farmers but there is not a single beef farmer in the country who believes that if these machines were grading at a 40% inaccuracy to the benefit of the farmer, they would not be recalibrated,” Naughten explained.
“This can have a significant impact on the payment received by farmers because if a grading machine was out by at least two subcategories this could see farmers getting €140/head less than they should for their cattle.”
“While I have no doubt that the standards being used here in the inspections comply with EU law, the point is that these standards are not protecting the farmers who are supplying cattle to these plants. The law must be changed to reflect this and I’m calling for this to happen as a matter of urgency ,”