IFA national livestock chairperson, Angus Woods, said the proposal from the Department of Agriculture to change the equations in the classification machines at meat plants, which determine the conformation and fat score of cattle, reward factories over farmers.
“The department proposed changes to the machines, which will reduce conformation scores on cattle, will take money directly out of beef farmers pockets and is totally unacceptable,” noted the IFA spokesperson.
Mr Woods said according to the information presented by the department, the output of the trial of the new equations will result in a significant reduction in the conformation scores of cattle slaughtered in Ireland, which will reduce the price paid to farmers.
The department trial conducted in Slaney Meats was originally set up to access new lighting and camera technology for the mechanical classification machines, he noted.
“It was never a requirement to change or interfere with the accredited equations which determine conformation and fat score,” said Mr Woods.
“The department have said that they want to change the equations for conformation and fat score because of the changing profile of the national herd. This is wrong and totally unacceptable.”
The IFA livestock leader said the new technology fails to provide all farmers with the correct conformation and fat score for every animal slaughtered.
“The Department of Agriculture is acutely aware of this, but refuses to provide an appeals mechanism for reasonable recourse for affected farmers to have the correct price paid by the factories for their cattle,” said Mr Woods.
He said that IFA has written to Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed seeking an urgent meeting on mechanical classification before the Department of Agriculture proceed with any of their proposed changes.