The Department of Agriculture's and the Minister's response to the issue of excess carcass trimming in factories has been "less than satisfactory to say the least" - that's according to Eamon Corley - Beef Plan Group (2018-2015).
The group's spokesperson and chairman - who released an update on Whatsapp - said that the group has been working on this issue for weeks now.
This issue was exposed to the public by Beef Plan Group member - Hugh Doyle - at the Mayo Beef Plan meeting on Wednesday (November 14th).
"This excess trimming has been going on for years and as a result, farmers have been robbed of the true value of their cattle." A statement released by the group outlined.
Beef Movement understands that only up to 2% of carcasses are actually monitoring, adding that considering that 21 cases were discovered on the 2% monitored so far in 2018, "it looks very likely many more were impacted but unchecked."
"There were 28 cases identified in the up to 2% of carcasses that were checked in 2016 also," Eamon said.
"If this is a genuine mistake why is it happening every year and why has it not been corrected by now - we consider this a very serious matter." He added.
Loss from €1-€300
Eamon Corley provided an example using a good quality steer U+ 2+ booked in at a base price of €4.00/kg to put the issue into perspective.
"If due to excess trimming, he gets knocked back down fat score wise to a U+ 2-, he will lose the 12c Quality Assurance plus the 24c conformation bonus - that's 36c/kg."
"0.36× 400kg = €144. Also, if 6kg were trimmed that would be 6× 4 = €24 - so the total loss for this beast would be 144 + 24= €168." Eamon said.
"The consequence of dropping a fat score or 2 is far more serious than the amount of weight trimmed."
"The amount of illegal trimming is an open-ended question; the loss could easily be any figure from €1-€300," Eamon concluded.
Freedom of Information request
The group is, therefore, encouraging farmers to make a Freedom of Information request to Department; the Minister and local TDs or ministers seeking "the name and location of each beef processor that has been caught excessively trimming beef carcasses in the past 3 years."
The group said that farmers can additionally ask if any of their animals were involved; this is considered a personal request, meaning that a copy of ID is required.
For more information about the group and its upcoming meetings, see here.
Image source: Tricia Kennedy