IFA President Joe Healy said this week’s Beef Forum must address the income crisis situation for livestock farmers and set out a strategy for the sector on viable cattle prices and Brexit. He said the loss-making cattle prices this autumn have seriously undermined confidence in the sector.
Joe Healy said, following a request from IFA, Minister Creed has called a meeting of the Forum on Thursday. He said the IFA message to the Forum will be that prices must be restored to viable levels and farmers are not going to continue to produce beef at a loss.
“Factories, and all sections of the industry, know there is no future for the Irish beef industry at current prices. Factories must demand significantly higher prices from their British retailer customers and pass these increases directly back to struggling farmers.”
Joe Healy said it is clear from the experience this autumn, the industry plan to increase cattle numbers will fail the Irish beef sector and especially farmers. “We need to adopt a strategy based on more live exports of calves, weanlings and store cattle to create a better supply/demand balance in the market and more competition.”
He said Minister Creed needs to prioritise market access and especially live export markets to find viable outlets for the increased numbers forecasted in 2017. In addition, the Minister needs to secure a solution to the labelling issues being used to block the live trade to Northern Ireland and Britain.
The IFA President said the Government must pursue all of the national and EU options on support for producers in the context of Brexit implications as well as securing more support for promotion and marketing. He said increasing direct supports to €200 per suckler cow must be a priority. In addition, he added that the issue around Department of Agriculture inspectors permanently monitoring carcase trim in the meat plants must be resolved.