At the Beef Forum meeting in Dublin today, IFA President Joe Healy made it very clear to the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, and the Forum, that the post-Brexit negativity and price cuts by the meat factories were excessive, and undermining confidence in the sector.
Joe Healy emphasised to the Minister that to be effective the Beef Forum has to work for the whole sector and that means it must deliver for farmers as well as for others.
The IFA President said the meat factories had overhyped the Brexit result and taken advantage on cattle price. He said beef industry commentators had suggested that the Sterling devaluation was 16% and some even went as far as 25% “This was totally incorrect and the facts are the Sterling adjustment is 7%. In addition, UK beef prices have increased by 10p/kg since Brexit.”
He said the increase in UK cattle price and the correct Sterling adjustment would change UK returns by only 8c/kg and not the severe price cuts of 25/30c/kg factories have imposed.
Joe Healy called on the factories to stop the negativity and the price cuts. He told Minister Creed it is vital that confidence is restored and maintained at farm level.
Bord Bia presented forecast cattle supply figures to the Forum which showed a reduction of 44,000 head in the number of beef cattle in the 24-36 month age group compared to June 1st last year. This should leave prime finished cattle supplies tight over the coming weeks and months. The Bord Bia figures also show that there is a considerable increase in younger cattle numbers from increased registrations and lower live exports.
Joe Healy said with the increase in younger cattle supplies, the Beef Forum has to ensure that there are adequate markets and outlets to meet the increase and return a viable and competitive price to farmers above the costs of production.
The IFA President also raised a number of other issues at the Forum including increased resources on market access, the Government strategy on Brexit, reopening the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme, live exports and Turkey, and specifications including age, weight and residencies.