Thursday, 6 December 2018

Ceisteanna (34)

Jackie Cahill


34. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether beef farmers receive a fair price from factories for their produce; the course of action he will take with factories following the reports of fines being imposed in 2018 for excessive carcase trimming; the level of fines imposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51184/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The quality payment system for beef was introduced a number of years ago following intensive negotiations between Meat Industry Ireland and the farmers representatives. The payment system makes use of Carcase Grade sub-classes to determine the price paid, with the aim of rewarding farmers for producing the better quality and higher value carcases. The question of the price paid for particular grades is, of course, a matter for the producers and processors.

Carcase classification and carcase presentation controls in slaughter plants are carried out by a dedicated team of specialist staff in the Beef Carcase Classification Section within my Department. Additional monitoring of carcase presentation by my Department’s veterinary public health inspection staff (VPHIS) in the factories is currently being implemented. 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 Carcase Classification staff.

Up-skilling of my Department’s VPHIS 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. Phased roll-out is happening at a number of plants currently.

To date there have been 44,332 carcases inspected in 2018. A total of 19 carcases were fined for non-compliance with the EU reference carcase trimming specification which is 0.05% of the number inspected. Non-compliance with the carcase trim specification attracts a maximum on the spot fine of €200 per carcase.

As part of on-going 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 relation to the application of carcase dressing procedures. I understand that processors will introduce a payment to the farmer supplier to reflect any loss, in each case where my Department has applied a trim fine on a particular carcase. Such payment will be identified on the payment remittance docket, so that farmers will be aware of the penalty.