Factories Focus Should Be on Strong Uk Market Returns – IFA

IFA President Joe Healy has said the strong market conditions in the UK for beef are being ignored by the meat factories, which are engaging in scaremongering with farmers. He warned against excessive use of the decision to leave the EU as a lever on price, saying market access for Irish beef is unchanged and demand for product continues to strengthen.

“While the issue of market access for Irish produce will be critical in the discussions over the next two years, the situation remains unchanged until that process has concluded. The use of this as an excuse by factories to lower prices is opportunistic at the expense of farmers and a failure by them to reflect the reality of what is available from the UK market place.”

Joe Healy said, “The UK market is heavily dependent on supplies of Irish beef. It is vital that our processors take full advantage of the strong market conditions to protect farmers. The current markets conditions in the UK, driven by tight supplies and strengthening prices, puts our beef processors in a strong negotiating position to protect returns to farmers during this period of short-term volatility”.

The IFA President said the Beef Forum, which will meet in the next fortnight, must provide clear direction and certainty for beef farmers in relation to our most important export market, both in the short term and the long term.

IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said cattle prices in the UK continue to strengthen on the back of tight supplies, providing a real opportunity for our factories to maximise returns for Irish beef, which is best placed to meet the strong demand.

“While the UK is an important market for Irish beef, half of our exports go to other European and international markets, which are not directly impacted by these events.”

The IFA Livestock Chairman said supplies of suitably-finished cattle remain extremely tight. Factory agents are very active on the ground in attempts to secure numbers of cattle for immediate slaughter. Farmers should strongly resist lower-quoted prices. This week steers traded at €4/kg and heifers at €4.10/kg with cattle also bought for next week at these prices despite factories quoting 5 – 10c/kg less. He said seasonally we are at the peak of the cow kill, with a sharp drop off in numbers slaughtered in previous years from mid-July onwards which should impact positively on demand for cows.

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