The question of the price paid is a matter for producers and processors. Steers and heifers are purchased and paid for on the basis of the quality payment scheme pricing grid.
To date in 2018 there have been 521 inspections across 32 slaughter plants and 44,332 carcasses have been inspected. A total of 19 carcasses were found to be non-compliant with the EU reference carcass trimming specification which is 0.05% of the number inspected. Under legislation and SI 363/2010, non-compliance with the carcass trim specification attracts a maximum on the spot fine of €200 per carcass.
Regarding the maximum level that can be imposed, any person who commits an offence under the current regulations is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both. Recourse to this approach would preclude the possibility of an on the spot fine and conviction would require proof of intention beyond a reasonable doubt.
Carcass classification and carcass presentation controls in slaughter plants are carried out by a dedicated team of specialist staff in the beef carcass classification section within my Department. Additional monitoring of carcass presentation by my Department’s veterinary public health inspection staff is currently being rolled out. This will provide further assurance to stakeholders that the appropriate dressing specification is being applied. These staff will provide a supporting role for the beef carcass classification staff. Upskilling of my Department’s veterinary public health inspection staff has occurred at regional seminars and local training of officers is being provided. Furthermore, information seminars were held for both industry and farm representative bodies regarding the enhanced controls.
As part of ongoing dialogue with the industry both within the beef forum and directly with Meat Industry Ireland, I have stressed the need for positive engagement between suppliers and processors and I understand that Meat Industry Ireland has accepted that no individual farmer should be at a loss from a mistake made in a factory in the application of carcass dressing procedures. I further understand that processors will introduce a payment to the farmer supplier to reflect any loss in each case where the Department has applied a trim fine on a particular carcass. Such payment will be identified on the payment remittance docket so that farmers will be aware of the penalty.