Following a meeting of the Beef Forum with Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed and the meat factories in Dublin this week, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said the clear message was that beef markets are in a strong position and there is no basis for any pressure on cattle prices.
Woods said both Bord Bia and the factories confirmed the positive position on the beef markets and Minister Creed said live exports were performing very well, up 43% to date this year, which he described as very positive.
Angus Woods said Bord Bia confirmed that market demand for beef is strong, export market prices, particularly in our main market in the UK, are very strong and due to increased live exports and lower carcase weights, cattle numbers will be a lot less than originally forecast.
Angus Woods welcomed the progress on market access to Japan and the US but said this must be turned into real cattle price delivery to beef farmers. “We need to see more progress on market access, especially to China and Asia. We also need a lot more work on live export markets like Egypt so as to increase price competition.”
The IFA Livestock leader welcomed the strong stance being taken by Minister Creed regarding opposition to an EU/Mercosur trade deal. He said Minister Michael Creed made it absolutely clear to the Forum meeting that it is firmly the Government position that beef must be excluded from any Mercosur deal and he will be vigorously pursuing this at the EU Farm Council next week in Brussels.
On Brexit, Angus Woods told Minister Creed and the Department of Agriculture that farming and the agriculture sector must be kept firmly top of the Government and EU agenda. He said the beef sector is particularly exposed and must be protected. In addition, he said beef farmers rely very heavily on direct payments for their income and Minister Creed must be demanding an increase in the CAP budget in Brussels. “Direct payments must be protected and increased for suckler cows, in line with the proposals from IFA,” Angus Woods said.
Angus Woods said the IFA again raised with Minister Creed the serious concerns of farmers over the lack of controls and oversight on carcase trim and classification at the meat plants. He said IFA has consistently demanded that the Minister for Agriculture direct AOs in the meat plants to monitor trim and classification on a constant daily basis in all meat plants. “Minister Creed accepted how important the trim and classification issues are for farmers and the Department indicated that they are progressing the matter of Agricultural Inspectors being on the line for constant monitoring so as farmers are protected.” Angus Woods reminded the Minister that the IFA had written to him directly raising very serious concerns on this issue.