As an outcome of the recent beef talks, a number of initiatives aimed at increasing transparency along the beef supply chain were agreed in the Irish beef sector agreement of 15 September, which is published on my Department's website. These included the commissioning by my Department of reports, including an independent review of market and customer requirements, specifically on the four in-spec bonus criteria in operation in the Irish beef sector. Matters like the 30-month rule and four allowed movements were raised frequently in the dispute and there will be an independent study of those to see if they are used by the industry to suppress price and as a way to manage flow or if they are a legitimate demand of the consumer in respect of purchasing. There will also be an independent examination of the price composition of the total value of the animal, including the fifth quarter, along the supply chain and a summary of competition law issues as relevant to the Irish beef sector.
In addition, Bord Bia will develop a beef market price index model based on three components. These are live cattle prices, the beef market price index for retail and wholesale and an offal price indicator. Teagasc will also review the quality payment grid. Additional commitments in the agreement include detailed price reporting on the Beef PriceWatch app, examination of transparency models in other jurisdictions and a consultation process on the transposition of the unfair trading practices directive. Work on these commitments is under way and progress will be reported via the beef task force set up to oversee the implementation of the agreement.
The task force is comprised of key beef sector stakeholders, with Mr. Michael Dowling as independent chair. The beef task force scheduled for yesterday, 14 October, was adjourned, as members of the task force were prevented from attending the meeting. It is in the interests of everyone involved in the beef industry that the work of the task force should go ahead. The task force's remit is to monitor the implementation of the actions arising from the agreement reached on 15 September and it offers the most viable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders. It was a great pity that farm representatives were not in a position to air the legitimate concerns of farmers at the task force meeting.