Mechanical beef grading by May 1

Marts: Sectors of the meat processing industry have been privately giving a guarded welcome to the announcement of grant aid towards the changeover to mechanical grading for beef at the factories, but collectively, they have officially reserved their view on the offer — so far.

With a new target date of May 1 for the start-up of the mechanical graders at the 27 beef processing locations, Farm Minister Joe Walsh has tied in the grant aid of 40% of approved outlay with compliance to meet the target date.

The grant aid will be paid on a maximum investment by the factories of €170,000 to cover the purchase cost of the mechanical grader and installation costs at the factory, giving a maximum grant payable of €68,000. The beef processors who have been represented in the negotiations with the Department of Agriculture by IMA and IBEC have yet to decide if they will collectively agree to purchase from the same manufacturer, with a choice of three approved machines.

Installation costs are also likely to vary from one location to another with additional reconstruction work necessary at some factories to provide space for the equipment.

The grant scheme is available immediately and applications will close on Friday, February 27. The grant scheme will apply to machines ordered by March 19.

It is intended machines should be in operation by the end of April.

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