Stakeholders who want a review of the Quality Pricing System (QPS), the beef grid, should come forward with their proposals, but must remember that science and market requirements will remain at the core of it, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said.
MII, the body representing the meat factories, was responding to a new report from the Oireachtas committee on agriculture, which recommended that Minister for Agriculture review the beef grid.
“The essential elements of the QPS are rewarding quality and market suitability. From its origins, the QPS was about rewarding better grading animals and animals that best meet the marketplace requirements.
“The current grid structure is based on science and yield,” an MII spokesperson said.
On reviewing grading practices as recommended by the committee, the MII spokesperson said the automated carcase grading system that is in operation in Ireland is the most comprehensive approach to ensuring objective and consistent beef carcase classification in accordance with the European Commission’s EUROP grading system.
“Carcase grading also continues to be monitored and overseen by Department officials. Furthermore, the Department of Agriculture will shortly publish an independent expert report on a recently conducted trial to assess an overall systems upgrade of the technology that will future-proof its successful operation to high standards in Ireland," the spokesperson added.
“Therefore, the recommendation of the Agriculture Committee on this topic is already actioned.
A review of feedlots and their impact on the beef sector was also recommended by the committee. On this issue, MII said it is happy for the Minister for Agriculture to look at the role of ‘controlled finishing units’ or feedlots in the sector.
“There has been much misinformation circulated on feedlots this spring.
“MII has continuously highlighted that factory owned/controlled feedlots account for less than 5% of cattle and these are important to ensuring year round supply of in-spec cattle for key customer accounts which are important to the sector. The vast majority of controlled finishing units are farmer owned and operated.”
Separate to the report, MII has said that it remains the case that the most serious strategic challenges that face the sector are Brexit, climate change and an EU-Mercosur trade deal.
“The most imminent of these is the threat presented by an EU-Mercosur trade agreement that could be finalised this week and that could see the European Commission grant additional access to the European market for vast quantities of low-priced, less environmentally efficient beef from the South American trading bloc.
“Even at this late stage, the Government must resist this unacceptable undermining of domestic EU and Irish beef production,” the spokesperson concluded.