The Beef Plan Movement has released a document, outlining 13 key issues that are impacting beef and sheep farmers.
The group is calling on Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to review the following;
- The issue of an upper age limit to influence the price offered for steers and heifers – a farmer’s livestock is devalued once an animal reaches an age of 30-months;
- The use of an upper age limit to influence the price offered for young bulls – a farmer’s livestock is devalued once an animal reaches an age of 16-months;
- The use of an upper limit of herd-to-herd movements to influence the price offered – the moment limit punitively discourages the open trading of stock between farmers;
- 70 days single farm residency required for recognition as Bord Bia quality-assured animal – a farmer’s factory-fit livestock are devalued if presented for sale in a mart;
- Carcass weights threshold for cattle and sheep changed without reasonable notice period – changes to weight thresholds without a reasonable change notice period devalues a farmer’s livestock or forces the sale of stock at a time not best suited to the farmer;
- Excessive trim being taken from carcass (cattle and sheep) – kill-out percentages that will not be challenged by the processor cannot be established as no live weight is recorded – therefore excessive trim can go unnoticed, devaluing the farmer’s livestock;
- No independent manual grade appeals process – the processor has an unfair position with respect to the appeals process if a farmer has a concern as to the accuracy of the grade assigned;
- QPS grid price differentiation between grades – farmers that produce carcasses that fall within the U and E grades do not receive a price difference that is reflective of the increased meat yield associated with these animals, thereby their stock is devalued relative to lower-grading animals – farmers have no standard terms of business when receiving a quote from a processor, thereby placed in a vulnerable business position; All terms of business not clearly provided by a processor – if a factory agent is contracted to or is working for more than one processor it reduces the competition in the market for the farmer;
- Agents working for more than one processor – if a factory agent is contracted or is working for more than one processor, it reduces the competition in the market for the farmer;
- Insurance paid by farmers for animals delivered to processors – the farmer has no opportunity to review the coverage, terms and conditions or to negotiate the premium associated with the pass-through charge that the processor deducts from the money owed by them;
- EID sheep tags – Irish farmers have to tag sheep presented for slaughter with EDI tags; however, no such requirement is in place for live animals imported to the country. The cost associated with this mandatory requirement places the Irish farmer at a commercial disadvantage relative to the imported live animals.
Policy Change Request:
- Review of 30-month age limit for steers and heifers as a QPS base price threshold age;
- Review of 16-month age limit for young bulls as a QPS base price threshold age;
- Removal of the number of herd-to-herd movements as a way to differentiate between the price paid for one animal over another.
- Review of non-transferable Bord Bia QA status between farms;
- Published upper carcass weight thresholds with documented change notice periods;
- Animals weighed live immediately prior to slaughter and weights made available to the farmer;
- Mechanical grading machine images made available to the farmer on request;
- The introduction of independent manual grade appeals process;
- Review of fixed price differentiation between grades;
- Introduction of binding quote sheets that detail at a minimum number of animals, animal type, base price per Kg and agreed slaughter date;
- Factory agents must only be allowed to work for one processor organisations;
- Insurance costs are to be incorporated into the price quoted per Kg in a similar manner to the way the fifth-quarter is;
- Mandatory tagging requirement to be extended to imported live animals for the same reasons Irish sheep are tagged.