The ICOS marts committee held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether the Quality Payment Scheme is unfairly penalising farmers and distorting trade.
ICOS national marts committee chair Michael Spellman has raised question marks over the validity of certain aspects of the Quality Payment Scheme (QPS). The concerns were highlighted in a meeting with the ICMSA, ICSA, IFA and Macra na Feirme, held on Wednesday to discuss the QPS.
Carcase weights, age limits, lack of trim monitoring by department and a bonus for all livestock from BBQA farms were also issues.
According to Spellman, the main areas of concern include non-payment of the QPS bonus or penalties on animals that have moved in the final 70 days before slaughter or with more than four movements.
He presented research (detailed in Table 1) carried out with key retailers by ICOS, the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) in England and the Institute of auctioneers and appraisers in Scotland (IAAS), which he said shows that processors are enforcing regulations above and beyond that required by customers.
“It’s clear that no UK retailer has a 70-day residency pre-slaughter or more than four farm residencies combination as a requirement.
“Why then do our meat factories insist it’s a ‘customer requirement’, and why is it part of the current QPS bonus scheme when no such requirement exists?” he asked.
Spellman said these measures exceed the requirements of the BBQAS, which allows for movements between QA farms in the final 70-day pre-slaughter period.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said: “The in-spec bonus is paid by individual processors to reward and incentivise the production of animals which meet market specifications.
“The bonus simply reflects the animals most desired for the marketplace and the eligibility criteria in relation to residency period and number of farm residencies during the lifetime of the animal and have not changed in recent years.
“Department of Agriculture data shows that over 90% of QA cattle satisfy the criteria.”
ICMSA livestock committee chair Michael Guinan said the ongoing problems farmers are having in certain factories when they sell animals and are being penalised on weight and other limits merely reinforce the conviction long held by farmers that certain factories operate their specifications in the manner of a “goalpost mounted on wheels”.