There is no rule limiting the age of cattle for beef production. However, meat processors do make in-spec bonus payments in respect of cattle which meet certain market specifications demanded by retail customers. The 30 month age limit to which you refer is one such specification. It is entirely a commercial matter and is not a condition imposed by my Department.
It should be noted however that almost all third countries have a 30 month age limit in respect of imports and this will be specified in the veterinary health certificate which will accompany the product. These requirements are a matter for the authorities in those countries.
On 15 September, I announced that agreement had been reached between Meat Industry Ireland and farm organisations and representatives (IFA, ICMSA, ICSA, Macra na Feirme, INHFA, the Beef Plan Movement and Independent Farmers of Ireland) on a two strand agreement for the reform of the Irish Beef Sector.
Two elements of this relate specifically to the 30 month age limit:
- the introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30 to 36 months, which meet all non-age related existing in-spec criteria, and which up to now have not received any bonus;
- an independent review of market and customer requirements, specifically in relation to the four in-spec bonus criteria currently in operation in the Irish beef sector.
The entry into force of the Agreement is contingent on the cessation of all protests and blockades. All parties to the Agreement agreed to recommend it to those they represent. The future of the beef sector is now in the balance, and I would appeal to all those still protesting to step back, for the sake of their fellow farmers.