Minister Coveney Must Assert His Authority with Meat Factories – IFA

IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said moves by the meat factories to try and engineer further cattle price cuts are totally unjustified as prices in our main market in the UK have stabilised in recent weeks and remain well ahead of Irish levels. Henry Burns accused the factories of a new breach of faith with farmers in trying to impose new specification cuts on age in a move to force out cattle. He said the factories are back to their old tricks this week of intimidating and bullying farmers by threatening more price cuts if they don’t sell, using the 30-month age as the main lever.

Henry Burns said by failing to take strong action last spring, Minister Coveney allowed the factories run amok, tear up the QPS agreement they had with farmers and impose new specification cuts which were never agreed. He said the factories are now trying to repeat this, threating additional cuts on over 30-month cattle as a means to force out stock.

The IFA Livestock leader said it’s long past the time for Minister Coveney to get serious with the meat factories. He said no Minister can allow the factories completely ignore him and continue to undermine confidence in the livestock sector. He said, “The Minister must assert his authority and insist that the factories respect the agreement they have with farmers on the Quality Payment System. He must insist they remove the unfair specifications cuts on dual pricing, weights, age and breeds that were never part of the QPS”.

In addition, Henry Burns said Minister Coveney must remove the roadblocks impeding the important live export trade to Northern Ireland so that competition and the single market are allowed to freely operate. He said “IFA has been working hard with processors in Northern Ireland and branding solutions have been put forward which can resolve this issue. Minister Coveney needs to strongly support these solutions, as time is running out before the autumn trade intensifies.”

On the markets, Henry Burns said sterling has improved from 85p to 79p against the €uro from this time last year. In addition, EBLEX in the UK are forecasting supplies to tighten for the second half of this year and into 2015. In Northern Ireland supplies have tightened considerably and R3 steers are making the equivalent of €4.33/kg incl vat.

In Great Britain, prices in the south are reported at the equivalent of €4.27 and at €4.45/kg in the North. Across the main EU markets, Bord Bia are reporting prices of €4.09 for R grade steers in France and €3.85 for R3 bulls. In Germany R3 bulls are on €3.71/kg and €3.82 in Spain. In Italy R3 bulls are making €4.03/kg.

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