Farmers will be unsettled by the Department’s recent admission that so far this year, mechanical grading in two factories has been suspended, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) livestock chair Des Morrison has said.

The ICMSA has called on the Department of Agriculture to clarify:

  • Which factories were involved.
  • The degree of error discovered upon inspection of the mechanical grading.
  • The length of time the incorrect grader was in use.
  • The number of animals affected based on grading and fat score.
  • The number of farmers who lost their in-spec bonus.
  • Morrison said: “There was a vague tone to the revelations that would greatly irritate farmers who suspected, with much justification, that there was a tolerance extended to grading failures on the part of the factories.”

    This same tolerance “was conspicuously not extended to farmers accused of failing to comply with the bewilderingly complex regulations covering farming and primary food production”.

    Enforcement officer

    The European Commission has appointed a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer (CTEO) for the first time with the specific brief of enforcing climate, environmental and labour rights aspects of EU trade deals.

    Responding to the news, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said: “The first item in the CTEO’s in-tray must be the multiple aspects of the trade deals permitting the importation of South American beef that did not so much flout EU regulations and rules as directly contradict them.”

    Game changer

    McCormack described the appointment as one that had the potential to transform the basis on which trade deals with the EU were concluded and monitored.

    “Potentially, this appointment of Mr Redonnet is a game changer in terms of the basis and willingness of the EU to demand and insist on the kinds of commitments to sustainability and environment that they rightly demand of their own farmers.

    “The EU happily concluded trade deals with groups and states for the importation of beef and other food products that were produced by the destruction of whole regions of rainforests and the ejection and displacement of indigenous peoples.

    “To describe this as hypocrisy was to actually understate the matter very considerably,” McCormack concluded.

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