Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is to personally join the roundtable talks about the current beef crisis on Tuesday morning.

After two days of lengthy talks, there are still issues dividing the farm organisations and Meat Industry Ireland.

After a marathon 12 hours of discussion on Monday, IFA president Joe Healy said that Minister Creed had agreed to get involved, with a view to resolving the outstanding issues, especially around the 30-month age limit.

A meeting is scheduled with Minister Creed in Backweston at 10am Tuesday morning.

It is understood that all the farm organisations present in the talks have asked for 30 month age limits, four-movement restrictions and 70-day residency rules to be removed.

These are seen as a mechanism to control price and flow of stock, according to a Beef Plan Movement representative at the meeting.

Grading appeals

Earlier on Monday, it was revealed that the Department of Agriculture is to provide an appeals system for carcase classification of cattle in factories where manual grading takes place.

The IFA is seeking an appeals system in all meat plants.

Grid review

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

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that the roundtable talks included the proposal that the grid should be based on meat yield, using a 3D image of the carcase to estimate that yield, with Teagasc research on boning out carcases to underpin the calculation.

Beef price index

Bord Bia has agreed to develop a beef market price index model.

It is understood that the Beef Plan Movement requested that minimum, maximum and national average prices be published in the interest of price transparency.

IFA president Joe Healy said that greater transparency along the beef supply chain was also agreed upon. An independent study of price composition along the supply chain will be commissioned by the Department of Agriculture.

Weighing of live cattle

While Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has agreed to provide a cattle weighing service before the kill line at factories, the question of who should pay for the weighing was raised at Monday’s talks.

MII has said it should be a nominal charge paid by the farmer, but the farm organisations are understood to have rejected this.

Insurance charges

On insurance charges at the factories, Meat Industry Ireland confirmed that farmers can opt out of paying.

Beef Plan protests

Beef Plan Movement co-chair Hugh Doyle read the following statement to the meeting: “Beef Plan is looking for an acknowledgement from MII that we are taking a step back from all future protests from this day forward and will take no hand act or part in any such protests. We are seeking for MII to acknowledge this and withdraw all future litigation.”

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that the statement was acknowledged by the roundtable talks chair Michael Dowling.

Grocery regulator

It was also agreed that an independent grocery regulator is required.

Severe income crisis

Following the second 12-hour session in a week, IFA president Joe Healy said that with Brexit just 72 days away, strong EU and Government support is urgently required for beef farmers who are in the middle of a severe income crisis.

On imports, Healy said the IFA made a major issue on the damage to the EU beef market and prices from sub-standard beef imports from outside the EU.

He said it was agreed that: “It should be ensured that imports which do not meet the same stringent standards as EU producers are banned."

The IFA also secured what it described as “a strong position” for additional funding for targeted direct support for suckler cows.

Read more

Beef price update: prices static while BEAM opens for applications

‘No money to be left behind’ in BEAM Scheme

New system for farmers to appeal manually graded carcases

‘QPS is not fit for purpose’ – ICOS