Membership Benefits

Exclusive Discounts for ICSA Members 

Join ICSA Today

An Association of Farmers for Farmers

ICSA QA Threat Delivers Results – Full Roundtable Meeting Report

Nov 12, 2014 | Press Releases | 0 comments

13th November 2014


To all farmers: I want to update you on progress.

The campaign we have been running threatening to pull out of quality assurance has played a significant part in the events of recent days.  ICSA was talking about the key issues around spec when nobody else wanted to know.  This was quite evident at the ploughing championships when we got a lot of support because we were the only show in town on these issues.  Issues such as weight, age, a quality assurance bonus on only 1 in 4 when 90% of animals slaughtered were coming from quality assured farms, the manipulation of free trade in marts through abuse of the quality assurance scheme with residency and movement restrictions. 

We have continued to collect signatures online and at marts and at meetings.  Some marts have been very accommodating; some have, disappointingly, been unhelpful.

I, along with the ICSA president Patrick Kent, and Tom Egan, beef vice-chair attended the marathon Beef roundtable talks which ended at 2 am this morning (Thursday).  Earlier in the week, we had been involved in bi-lateral negotiations with Meat Industry Ireland, chaired by Michael Dowling.

We are now in a position to report on what has been achieved and what remains to be done. 

Key elements of agreed document

Weight specifications:

  • Processors will agree not to impose any price penalties on any animals based on weights up to 31/12/15.  Farmers presenting heavier stock are requested to provide adequate notice to processing plants.

Age Specifications:

  • Processors and Bord Bia will engage with customers and DAFM will engage as soon as possible with competent authorities in 3rd country markets with a view to increasing the age specification for premium beef from 30 months to 36 months, and report back to the next forum on progress.

Farm Movements:

  • The industry and Bord Bia will engage with customers with a  view to securing flexibility on the number of movements and length of residency and in this regard to remove any barriers to the movement of cattle through marts pre slaughter and ensure full payment of the QPS bonus to qualifying animals.  There will be a progress report to the first forum in the new year.
  • Processors will harmonise the system for counting the four farm residencies for the purposes of determining eligibility for the QPS in-spec bonus to be agreed at the forum.
  • The Department will make any necessary adjustments to its AIM system for this purpose, consistent with statutory and traceability requirements.


  • Processors agree there will be no dual pricing for steers and heifers in individual processing plants, by breed, age or weight or quality assurance status.
  • The QPS system will be reviewed, with the assistance of Teagasc, with a view, in particular, to providing a more simple and transparent system, before the middle of 2015.
  • Processors agree to a targeted, cost neutral price incentive for all steers and heifers from Quality Assured farms with effect from January 1st, based on consideration of an appropriate mechanism to be agreed by then.

Live Exports

  • DAFM will continue to support and facilitate live exports by inspecting and approving vessels presenting for inspection for the purposes of transporting live animals overseas;
  • DAFM will continue to work to remove any barriers to the traditional trade for fattening and slaughter with Northern Ireland Authorities and UK retailers.


  • Department will strengthen controls around trim in meat plants in accordance with EU Regulations.

Bull Beef

  • The forum recognises the importance of the bull beef market, and will examine all issues relating to bull beef production systems and market demands at its next meeting in January 2015. In that context, any agreed changes in specifications and QA pricing incentives will be adopted without undue delay.

At this point, ICSA is pleased that progress has been made.  Meaningful negotiations and progress has started but the job is not finished.  We have a result on weights, but only until the end of 2015 and there is a job to negotiate these gains into the long term.  ICSA insisted on very tight wording on this last night to ensure that it covers any type of animal.  This is vital because many farmers lost €60-70 a head on bulls due to being over 420kgs  in 2014.

On QA, it is more clear than ever that the factories are very worried about any threat to the QA scheme.  Progress was made on getting agreement that a QA bonus for all heifers and steers in addition to the in-spec ones will be delivered by Jan 1; however, how much that bonus will be is not certain and it will be less than the 12c for in-spec.    Despite a lot of effort from farm orgs, bulls could not be included in that deal last night but the entire bull beef issue is the main item on the agenda for the next roundtable in January.  ICSA insisted that the review would cover age specs for bulls as well as a QA bonus.

There is also an agreement to review the whole barriers to trade in the marts (ie residency and movement requirements).  This is vital to opening up competition.  Issues such as being able to sell fatstock in a mart without loss of the QA bonus and ensuring that bringing an animal to a mart and not selling is not counted as a movement will be centre stage. 

The issue of 30 months was a red-line issue for ICSA and while it has not been abolished there is a firm commitment to trying to get customers to accept that 36 months is the appropriate age spec for heifers and steers.  Minister Coveney has rowed in behind this as well in terms of international markets.

Strengthened controls around monitoring trim in factories is also in there and that is very important.

At this point, I want to reassure all that ICSA is not taking anything for granted.  The red card for QAS abuse campaign is delivering results and we are keeping this option on the table.   However, how we progress this will be a matter for the ICSA committees and national executive. 

I would like to thank all of the c 4,000 who have supported us and we are still keen to get more signed up because it gives us a very useful bargaining chip to ensure that the commitments are delivered on and that we get results on the outstanding issues.

Eddie Punch, ICSA General Secretary

Patrick Kent, ICSA President 

Share Socially