An agreement reached at the marathon beef talks will enter into force following the "cessation of all protests and blockades".
The agreement involves Meat Industry Ireland, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association, Macra na Feirme, Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, Beef Plan Movement, Irish Farmers' Association, Irish Natura and Hill Farmers' Association.
A document - which outlines details of the agreement - states that blockades and protests should be "removed immediately" and if any party fails to comply with these provisions, the agreement lapses.
Beef processors undertake that all legal proceedings against farm organisations and/or individual farmers will be withdrawn in relation to this matter.
Parties agreed that any further disputes that arise, should, in the first instance, be bought before the Beef Market Taskforce.
Immediate benefits for farmers:
- The immediate introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30-36-months which meet all non-aged-related existing in-spec criteria;
- An immediate increase of two-thirds in the current in-spec bonus for steers and heifers from 12-20c/kg;
- The introduction of a new in-spec bonus of 12c/kg for steers and heifers under 30-months in the categories of grade O- and fat score 4+
- The in-spec residency requirement will be reduced to 60 days on the last farm;
- An immediate scientific review of the Quality Payment Grid by Teagasc; the first stage of the review is a desktop analysis of the pricing structure of the gride on the basis of meat yield/conformation, to be completed by the end of October.
Strategic structural reform:
- An independent review of market and customer requirements, specifically in relation to the four in-spec bonus criteria currently in operation in the Irish beef sector;
- An independent examination of the price composition of the total value of the animal, including the fifth quarter, along the supply chain. The results will inform future actions as necessary. The beef industry will co-operate in providing data; and
- A summary of competition law issues as relevant to the Irish beef sector.
Establishment of Beef Market Taskforce:
- Independently chaired by an appointee of the Minister, and will include DAFM, relevant state agencies and nominees from farm organisations and the meat industry;
- Provide a "robust implementation structure for commitments entered into this agreement with timelines and stakeholder engagement.
- Offer a suitable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders including retailers, regulatory authorities;
- Will review and bring forward measures that can support farmers transitioning from lower-grade animals towards higher-spec categories through innovation and new technologies.
- Bord Bia will further intensify promotional activity for Irish beef across key EU markets and China;
- DAFM and Bod Bia are actively engaging with EU Commission on the development of a Protected Geographical Indication for Irish beef.
- DAFM will provide additional detailed price reporting on the Beef PriceWatch app;
- Key retailer customers will be invited to brief the Task Force on their market requirements;
- Bord Bia will develop a beef market price index model;
- The Task Force will examine the transparency models in other jurisdictions;
- A consultation process will be launched shortly on the transposition of the Unfair Trading Practices Directive, including consideration of the requirement for an independent grocery regulator;
- DAFM will report its carcass classification inspection results on a regular basis. An expert report on mechanical carcass classification will be published in the near future. An appeals system for manual grading factories is being introduced;
- Teagasc will review the hot/cold weighing system;
- FSAI and DAFM will ensure stict enforcement of EU labelling laws.
Strengthing the position of the farmer in the supply chain:
- DAFM is "proactively engaging" with several "potential" Producer Organisations and providing guidance on the application process - the first beef PO was approved by the DAFM this week;
- DAFM is committed to a "continued strategic focus" in facilitating and developing this trade on a sustainable base, taking account of stringent animal health and welfare standards.
Miscellaneous industry commitments:
- Meat industry confirmed that the base price, at individual plant-level, applies to all steers and heifers regardless of age or breed'
- No change in the weight limits without a minimum of four months' notice to the farmer'
- Farmers have the right to access their carcass images;
- Lairage weighing services will be provided on request, which may incur a nominal charge;
- Written confirmation of terms of sale, where required;
- Farmers can opt-out of the insurance scheme for animals delivered to factories.