June 24th 2014
ICSA Beef Chairman Edmond Phelan has claimed that little over a quarter of all cattle slaughtered in Irish beef export plants are actually being paid a Quality Assured bonus despite the fact that 87% of farmers are quality assured. “It is a disgrace that farmers have put so much effort into Quality Assurance but they are being sold a pup in terms of reward. Apart from the fact that three quarters of cattle are not getting the 12c bonus, many cattle are being severely discounted with dual pricing whereby the base price is not paid.”
The ICSA calculations are an estimate based on national kill figures. Bulls and cows are not eligible for the bonus. Only steers and heifers qualify, but among these categories, 25-33% fall outside the required grade and fat score and some 170,000 steers and 70,000 heifers are over 30 months at slaughter. We also have to factor in the 13% of farms not quality assured and the fact that a limited amount of cattle fail on the movement and residency requirements.
Consequently we estimate that at best, some 400,000 cattle out of a total kill of 1,490,982 (2013 figures) would have got the quality assured bonus. Given that 87% of farms are quality assured, it is reasonable to suggest that 87% of the total kill should get a bonus – approximately 1.2 million cattle. Instead, farmers are being short-changed on some 800,000 head of cattle on the 2013 numbers. If the same trend holds for 2014, but with kill up by 14%, then farmers will be short-changed on some 900,000 cattle this year. “This is totally unacceptable and we would like to hear the views of the meat industry and the Minister on this.”