The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed should review the beef grid, review feedlots and look at establishing a beef sector regulator, a new Oireachtas committee on agriculture report on the beef industry has found.
It recommends that the Minister facilitates a review of both the Quality Payment System (QPS) and the associated grading practices to establish if this system is being exploited and to ensure that the grading practices are accurate.
The report, The Future of the Beef Sector in the context of Food Wise 2025, calls on Minister Creed to look at the merits of establishing a dedicated sectoral regulator as the competent authority, with responsibility for both the enforcement of the Unfair Trading Practices Directive and the delivery of ongoing regulatory interventions to improve the welfare of farmers.
On feedlots, the committee recommends that the Minister conducts a review of feedlots with a view to establishing the "potential adverse impacts" that their use may be having on the beef sector.
It also calls on Minister Creed to prioritise seeking Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Irish suckler beef, as well as recommending that the Minister actively pursues the establishment of a more detailed Meat Market Observatory at EU level.
This would include pricing data in relation to individual meat products as is the case with dairy products and the EU Milk Market Observatory.
The committee objects strongly to the inclusion of beef products in the prospective EU-Mercosur free trade agreement.
It believes that the prospective agreement, as it stands, will have unintended consequences.
“One such unintended consequence which is of particular concern to the committee is that a substantial amount of less carbon efficient beef will be introduced to the EU market, and the committee feels that this is unacceptable given the EU’s, and Ireland’s, increased focus on addressing climate change,” the report states.
On live exports, the committee recommends that the Minister establish a dedicated section within the Department of Agriculture which specialises in the live export trade.
The committee says “this section should be adequately resourced and should support and develop the live export trade so that it can reach its full potential”.
It also recommended that an association be established by live exporters to represent their interests with a view to enhancing coordination in relation to the live export trade.
Other recommendations include: