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14 March 2013|Cattle,News

No place for nomad cattle in N Ireland, says beef association


There is no place in Northern Ireland for nomad cattle brought in from the Republic for immediate slaughter, according to the National Beef Association.

"The majority of processors in the Province have reacted to the horsemeat scandal by emphasizing the provenance of NI beef and focusing even harder on cattle that are Red Tractor qualified" it said.

The association said it was 'dismayed' that two weeks ago, two processing companies ignored underlying beef industry worries and transported 533 non-FQAS cattle from the Republic to slaughter in Northern Ireland.

"If these importers do not abandon the practice immediately they will have made clear they have no interest in positioning NI beef more solidly on the UK and EU markets by ensuring it is seen as a single country of origin product - and are motivated entirely by their own selfish ends."

"Are they not aware that consumer confidence in home produced beef is reinforced by the accurate identification of country of origin and that processing cattle from another country on the same premises as NI cattle could raise identity doubts and undermine the aims and intentions of the entire NI industry?" asked the NBA's Northern Ireland chairman, Oisin Murnion.

"Breeders and feeders throughout the Province recognize the advantage of 100 per cent qualification for the Red Tractor logo and are adamant that only Northern cattle should be processed in Northern plants and slaughter cattle from the South have no place on this side of the border.

"And we know that the majority of NI’s processors think the same because they not only want to avoid the complications of handling nomad cattle, whose beef cannot be labeled either British or Irish, but also want to work harder at establishing a rock solid NI beef brand that can command a much bigger premium on its most important markets than it does now.”

"This buyer concentration in NI on fully qualified FQAS stock that can carry the Red Tractor logo has not just created a £75 discount on non-assured stock but driven hundreds of unqualified cattle, most of them cull dairy cows, into the ROI where they face less stringent market penalties.”

"Finishers who in the past purchased stores out of the ROI have picked up these strong market signals as well and over the last two months have concentrated their purchasing on Red Tractor qualified cattle from NI itself.

"It is unfortunate that their efforts to re-establish NI beef as a single country of origin product continue to be damaged by the unnecessary insertion of nomad cattle into the Province’s processing system.”

"But pressure on the NI beef industry to establish itself as a rock solid seat of a single country of origin product is mounting because one of the qualifications for Red Tractor status is that stock has been fed exclusively on fully assured meals too and this cannot be guaranteed if an animal has been purchased through an ROI auction.”

"The NBA, which continues to be dismayed at the 30p deadweight discount between NI cattle and those in GB, supports the re-elevating of NI beef to a higher price status product and hopes others in the NI industry will join with it in condemning the regular importation of the nomad cattle which undermine these aims," Murnion added.

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