With the numbers for the last three weeks' cattle kill now below last year's corresponding period for the first time this year and against a background of rising cattle prices, farmers who do not wish to sell their stock under the Meat Industry Ireland beef price grid now have a further opportunity to negotiate and huge numbers are now being sold off the grid according to Mr. Kevin Connolly, Chairperson of ICMSA's Beef and Cattle Committee.
The Beef committee chairman said that since its introduction last December, it was – and is – quite clear that the vast majority of farmers are totally opposed to the grid system because they know themselves that they are losing money under the system, which they believe is deliberately designed to confuse and over-complicate and has left them in a situation where they cannot estimate what price they will receive for cattle leaving their yard. As Mr Connolly pointed out, "not even meat plant agents are able to tell a farmer with any degree of accuracy what grid box their cattle will fit into. What kind of system is that?"
Farmer opposition, Mr. Connolly said, has not waned over time and it is about time that the meat plants addressed the valid concerns of farmers in relation to the grid before more farmers simply walk away from fattening cattle, which is a crucial industry for rural Ireland and the wider economy.
Based on reports from ICMSA members around the country, it is now quite clear that many farmers are succeeding in selling their cattle 'off' the grid and without the substantial penalties – even if meat plants say otherwise. In the face of that reality, all farmers should now be pressurising their meat plant to either buy off the grid or, alternatively, that the meat plants revise the grid substantially so that it is simpler and the penalties are less severe, concluded Mr. Connolly.
Ends. 13 August 2010.
Kevin Connolly, 087-9381173
Chairman, ICMSA Beef & Cattle Committee
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office