IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said farmers selling cattle at the current unviable prices are shipping major financial losses and facing financial ruin.
He called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to insist that the Brexit compensation package currently being negotiated with the EU to be applied retrospectively.
The IFA Livestock leader said it is very easy for Commissioner Hogan to tell farmers ‘not to panic’ and for Minister Creed to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach, but the financial reality is Irish beef farmers are on their knees and urgently need a tangible response from Brussels, which addresses the Brexit losses. He said IFA has put detailed proposals to the Department of Agriculture on what’s needed for the beef and livestock sector.
Angus Woods said the current base price for steers at €3.75/kg and €3.85/kg for heifers are down 25c/kg on this time last year or €100 per head. He said “There was little or no margin in it last year and at the low prices this year, finishers are facing financial ruin”.
Angus Woods accused the factories and agents of overcooking the negativity around the cattle price, which he said has seriously damaged farmer confidence in the sector. “Cattle farmers have faced a barrage of negativity on the price since last autumn. It is incredible that the price has been stuck at a base of €3.75 for steers and €3.85 for heifers since last September.”
The IFA Livestock leader pointed out that cattle prices in our main export market in the UK are £3.46 for the week ending March 9th, equivalent to €4.24/kg incl. vat at an exchange rate of 86p/€. He said this compares to the official Irish steer price of €3.84/kg for the same week, and highlights a price differential of 40c/kg or up to €150 per animal.
Across the main EU markets R3 male cattle are making the following; Italy (Y Bulls) €4.31/kg, France (steers) €3.92/kg, Y Bulls €4.06/kg, Germany (Y Bulls) €3.93/kg, Spain (Y Bulls) 3.98/kg.
Angus Woods said the very strong cattle price in our main export market in the UK and the stronger prices across the main EU markets for male cattle all indicate that the factories here could be paying more.
On numbers, Angus Woods said the latest weekly kill of 34,200 excluding calves point to some level of tightening in supplies. This is the first time that the kill has come back to last year’s levels.