An ICSA delegation met with senior Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food officials this week to discuss farmers’ ongoing concerns regarding mechanical grading and the seemingly heavy trim applied on carcasses by factories. Farmers believe that excessive trimming results in them being paid less than the full value of the carcass. In the past this trimming was justified on the basis that fat had no value and it was carefully regulated according to the standard dressing. However, over the last few years, the trim has assumed an unexpected value, which is not being passed on to the farmer. Moreover, there are some suspicions that trimming is going beyond what is required under standard dressing. ‘Going into the future, these by-products will become even more valuable as they are components in the production of bio-diesel. This has been found to be highly profitable for factories in other countries,’ said Seán Scully, ICSA beef chairman. ‘The ICSA beef committee intends to pursue this at every level until farmers are paid for all of their produce,’ said Martin Coughlan, ICSA beef vice chairman. Mr Coughlan also expressed grave concern to the officials about the dramatic increase (5.5 percent in 2004, 12 percent in 2007 – source DAFF) in steers with a fat score of one or two since the introduction of mechanical grading, all at a time when the average weight of a carcase has increased significantly from 338.3 kg in 2004 to 357.8 kg in 2007.