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Regulation for Processors & Retailers Welcomed by the ICSA

Jan 25, 2016 | ICSA in the Media | 0 comments

That’s Farming – January 25 2016

Edmond Phelan has welcomed support from other farming organisations in calling for greater regulation of the meat industry

“We are also insisting that, at national level, there must be permanent scrutiny of meat plants to monitor issues such as carcass trim, angle of neck cut and an appeals process where farmers are unhappy with grades and fat scores.”

“We also need a permanent mechanism to prevent sudden changes to spec and the creation of what farmers see as spurious reasons to cut prices. We have a situation where Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme specifications are not accepted by meat plants and retailers. Instead they add on their own dubious terms and conditions such as age and weight limits and residency requirements. Farmers believe these are just a mechanism to pay farmers less than what they should get.

Hence, I am delighted to see IFA calling for an industry policeman and the Ulster Farmers’ Union calling for an EU supermarket ombudsman to ensure farmers get a bigger slice of the retail cake.”

Mr Phelan said these organisations can call the regulator whatever they wish; a ‘policeman’ as in the case of the IFA and an ‘ombudsman’ as in the case of the UFU.

“Either way it is recognition of ICSA’s campaign for transparency along the food chain and in meat factories. This campaign started at the 2014 ploughing championships and is widely supported by farmers. The food chain is not working for beef and sheep farmers. We have seen over-regulation of farmers but hardly any regulation further down the chain.”

“ICSA believes a regulator could investigate exactly who gets what from the food chain. For a long time now the finances of farmers have been very transparent but we know nothing of the margins made by multinational retailers and meat factories continue to make it harder for farmers to achieve a fair price. In our view the farmer does all the work and the processors and retailers get all the profit. This cannot be allowed to continue.” he said.

“Farmers need to be paid a fair price for their produce; it is simply unacceptable for producers and retailers to make the profits they do while farmers must make do with what they’re given. Robust and effective regulation is long overdue,” he concluded.

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ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said ICBF have gone too far with their changes to the beef breeding indexes regarding pedigree bulls. Commenting on the changes which came into effect this week Mr Kelleher said, “ICSA met with ICBF back in early November where we were reassured that no drastic changes would be made; this has turned out to be far from the case however. The changes are proving to have considerable ramifications for farmers participating in the SCEP scheme and indeed for the future of the suckler sector as a whole,” he said.

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