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No Going Back on NI’s New Price Grid Structure

06 November 2009

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The National Beef Association (NBA) who has been putting pressure on meat plants to raise the price paid for finished cattle have welcomed and praised the price restructuring for prime cattle in Northern Ireland (NI), which has raised the value of in-specification animals by a much needed 8p-10p per dwkg – and hopes it will soon be rolled out on a cross-UK basis.

However, the NBA believes a transitional period, in which finishers were given more warning about which cattle would suddenly face out-of-specification penalties, should have preceded the move, to curb the financial implications to committed finishers.

And it has asked for a meeting with processors at which it will ask them not to impose, without any forewarning, penalties on regular suppliers who have been delivering the same type of cattle, to the same outlet, for some time.

It has also warned the factories against suddenly changing tack again and removing all the current bonuses and penalties if they feel the tide of the market is running against them.

“There can be no going back on this welcome new development. Utter confusion will quickly reign if the new, much steeper, bonus and penalty system that lies at the core of the new price grids is ever retracted, and fragile farmer confidence would be dangerously undermined too,” explained NBA NI chairman, Oisin Murnion.

“Feeders who still have out-of-specification cattle in their sheds must be able to feel confident about replacing them with stores which will hit the new targets, and then adapt their management systems so that their in-specification hit rate reaches maximum levels when the new intake is sold.”

The NBA has noted that all seven of Northern Ireland’s factories, which include three with plants on the British mainland, will pay bonuses on exactly the same grades. For example they have the same weight range, demand farm assurance and insist on cattle being under 30 months of age.

It is also pleased that bonus cattle are allowed up to four farm residencies, which means dairy bred stock, which hit the correct weight and classification, will not be penalised, and appreciates the fact five factories will pay a bonus on UK bred stock and hopes the remaining two will soon discriminate against cattle, both stores and slaughter stock, which were bred in the ROI.

“The importation of increasingly huge numbers of ROI origin cattle into the Province for slaughter over 2009 has been one of the biggest curbs on a much needed price rise for NI cattle,” said Oisin.

“However mainland retailer demand is focussing even more on UK-origin beef and the recent press coverage by the NBA highlighting just how much ROI beef is sold through Asda, Sainsburys, and Tesco has concentrated minds even further.”

“As a result more cattle of UK origin are wanted, and if more pressure can be put on Asda and Sainsburys to increase their NI intake, and reduce volumes sourced from the ROI, then the future for beef production in Northern Ireland will look infinitely more solid.”

The Association wants finishers to be aware that if they deliver an animal outside the new weight range with its 10p per kilo penalty, and it classifies outside the newly listed bonus grid which has a 10p per kilo penalty too, they will face a double deduction of 20p, which in the case of a 420 kilo carcase means a loss of £84 a head.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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