There has been no sign whatsoever of agreement between farmers and factories on changes to the 30-month rule at the ongoing beef talks, according to ICMSA president Pat McCormack.

All farm organisations have demanded that the rule be changed to include older animals or be abolished completely.

McCormack said that there has also been no sign of agreement for the ICMSA’s insistence that the quality assurance bonus be paid on all animals coming off Bord Bia quality assured farms.

The president of the ICMSA has said that while he was not pessimistic, it was difficult to see where a breakthrough would come in Tuesday’s resumed session.

'Long, hard slog'

McCormack said that some progress on technical issues had been made during Monday’s “long, hard slog”, but acknowledged that some small degree of agreement had been reached around the specifications insisted upon by factories.

He said that it was significant that so much effort and trouble had had to be invested in matters which were essentially secondary and one step removed from the core issue of the price paid to the farmers.

There was, said McCormack, no doubting the effort being made around these talks, but he repeated his conviction that "the bias and unfairness shown to farmers at every level was structural and systemic and the whole beef sector and supply-chain would require fundamental reform that could only be initiated and forced through by Government or the EU".

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