ICMSA has produced figures showing that, in the five years from 2011 to 2015, Irish farmers have lost nearly €80m through the workings of the QPS grid introduced by the meat plants and the organisation says that this enormous loss clearly highlights why a complete review of the grid is required
The ICMSA president, John Comer, said that data showed that while certain categories of animals have gained from the introduction of QPS, there was overall average loss to farmers of €15m per year for every year that the QPS grid had operated.
He said that the research vindicated absolutely his organisation’s resistance to the introduction of the grid and his own repeated calls – made at the Beef Forum and on several other occasions – for a complete review and overhaul of the grid that looked particularly at what he described as its arbitrary and pointless specifications and deliberately over-complex structure
Mr Comer claimed that the grid had been deliberately designed not to work in the interests of farmers and that, even now, years after it was introduced, farmers or even factory agents have no confidence or certainty judging where cattle would ‘kill-out’ on the grid.
On top of the €80m figure he claims the grid had directly cost, farmers would be aware of numerous other cuts that had been introduced such as those for over-30 month cattle, overweight cattle and the issues around numbers of movements, and quality assurance issues. He noted that all these penalties were applied rigorously when cattle numbers were up, but were, as he put it, ‘thrown out the window’ when numbers were scarce and the factories were looking for cattle.
He said that, despite a commitment given at the Beef Forum nearly two years ago and despite numerous requests from ICMSA to review the grid, the meat plants continue to ignore the widespread mistrust, lack of confidence and ongoing resentment around the grid.
Those who championed what he called ‘this disaster of a grid’ must now concede that they were wrong and join ICMSA in demanding an immediate and through review of a grid that has, so far, cost farmers €80 million and counting. Mr Comer challenged anyone to look at the data and come to any other conclusion.