Macra president welcomes €23 million ‘step in the right direction’ for farmers

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Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy has welcomed the Programme for Beef Sector Reform negotiated by Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed and his team of senior officials.

The highlights of the deal include an immediate 66% increase from 12c to 20c in the current in-spec bonus payment along with new bonus payments including the immediate introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30 and 36 months, which meet all other non-age related existing in-spec criteria, and which up to now have not received any bonus.

Similarly, a new in-spec bonus payment of 12c/kg for steers and heifers under 30 months in the categories of grade O- and fat score 4+, which currently do not qualify for any bonus.

The Programme for Reform includes the establishment of a Beef Market Taskforce to provide a governance structure to enhance the future viability of the industry.

Mr Duffy said: “We welcome, in particular commitments around the implementation of EU Unfair Trading Practices Directive.”

Commenting on the conclusion of Beef Talks, Macra na Feirme President, Thomas Duffy said: “Almost €24m of new money into the pockets of struggling beef farmers is worth supporting.

“It has been a long and difficult series of talks over the past month. We particularly welcome the increases in bonus payments which will bring over 150,000 animals into bonus payment territory.”

Mr Duffy added: “There are significant steps within the Programme of Reform which address issues of transparency and trust within the sector.

“The creation of the Beef Market Taskforce which it is hoped will provide leadership and ensure a viable future for the sector, economically, environmentally and sustainably must be welcomed.”

Macra na Feirme’s president continued by saying: “The task force’s role in bringing forward measures that support farmers moving from lower grade animals to higher-spec categories through innovation and new technologies is especially welcome.

“As a sector we must have the ambition, especially for young farmers and future generations, to lead the way in terms of efficiency while rewarding competitiveness and modernisation to meet the major challenges ahead.”

In concluding Macra President Thomas Duffy said: “The commitments contained within the document are a welcome step forward.

“We have consistently stated that with only weeks to the uncertainty of Brexit being inflicted upon us, it is imperative that we return to normal farmer-factory activities.

“We thank the minister, his officials, agency officials, the leadership of our fellow farm organisation representatives.

“It is also important to recognise the commitments given by the meat factories and their representatives in Meat Industry Ireland.

“Without doubt, this has been a challenging time for the entire sector.

“We encourage all parties, including those that remain on protests to embrace the positives within the agreement in good faith.

“Along with all seven farm organisations involved in the discussions, we too, are encouraging all those involved in any ongoing protests to cease their participation in order for the agreement to come into force immediately.”