Meat Industry Ireland

MII reacts to Oireachtas report on beef sector

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Ibec sector organisation representing the meat processing industry today welcomed the work of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee looking at the beef sector in the context of Food Wise 2025 and challenges that the sector faces. “While the report rightly highlights the continued importance of the beef sector to rural Ireland’s economic activity and vibrancy and covers many issues that have been the focus of attention in the recent times, it remains the case that the most serious strategic challenges that face the sector are Brexit, Climate Change and an EU-Mercosur trade deal. The most imminent of these is the threat presented by an EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement that could be finalised this week and that could see the European Commission grant additional access to the European market for vast quantities of low priced, less environmentally efficient beef from the South American trading bloc. Even at this late stage, the Government must resist this unacceptable undermining of domestic EU and Irish beef production.”
“We must remain focused on the impending threat of a No-deal Brexit and also work collectively in the sector to meet our obligations as part of Ireland’s efforts to meet climate change commitments.”

As regards other areas covered in the report:

- MII is happy for the Minister for Agriculture to look at the role of ‘controlled finishing units’ or feedlots in the sector. There has been much misinformation circulated on feedlots this Spring. MII has continuously highlighted that factory owned / controlled feedlots accounts for less than 5% of cattle and these are important to ensuring all year round supply of in-spec cattle for key customer accounts which are important to the sector. The vast majority of controlled finishing units are farmer owned and operated.

- The automated carcase grading system that is in operation in Ireland is the most comprehensive approach to ensuring objective and consistent beef carcase classification according to the European Commission’s EUROP grading system in any member state. Carcase grading also continues to be monitored and overseen by Department officials. Furthermore, the Department of Agriculture will shortly publish an independent expert report on a recently conducted trial to assess an overall systems upgrade of the technology that will future proof its successful operation to high standards in Ireland. Therefore, the recommendation of the Agriculture Committee on this topic is already actioned.

- The essential elements of the QPS are rewarding quality and market suitability. From its origins, the QPS was about rewarding better grading animals and animals that best meet the marketplace requirements. The current grid structure is based on science and yield. Many stakeholders have called for a review of the QPS. They should come forward with their proposals but remember that science and market requirements will remain at the core of the QPS.

“Processors continue to work to expand and diversify markets across the globe. This is a strategic priority for the sector, as we deal with increasing supplies of cattle and seek to ensure that risks associated with a No-deal Brexit can be minimised. But equally, a No-deal scenario is one in which Government support for the entire sector is essential to ensure that we maintain a strong presence in the UK until the dust settles.”