IFA National Livestock Chairman, Henry Burns said there is growing anger among cattle farmers over the way some factories have started to manipulate cattle price cuts on weight and age, contrary to the clear agreement under the Quality Payment System (QPS).
He said some meat plants are dual pricing on weight and age and this is in direct contravention to what was agreed in the QPS and at the Beef Forum chaired by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
Henry Burns confirmed that a Beef Forum meeting is scheduled for December 16th. He said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must intervene immediately and stop the unfair price cuts factories are attempting to impose on farmers. He said “Minister Coveney has to show that he is prepared to roll up the sleeves and deal with the real issues between farmers and factories.” Henry Burns said it is no longer acceptable that beef farmers are constantly under the threat of more cuts from the factories.
On cattle prices, the IFA Livestock leader said based on returns in our main export market in the UK where cattle prices are the equivalent of €5.25/kg including vat, it is clear that there is major potential for Irish prices to rise from the current loss-making levels for winter finishers. He said the price gap of €1.28/kg that the Irish factories have opened up between Irish and UK cattle prices is unsustainable and points to a real lack of price competition. He said Minister Coveney cannot ignore this situation any longer.
Henry Burns said cattle finishers need a beef price increase to take them out of the current loss-making position selling finished cattle out of sheds, where production costs are significantly higher. He said Teagasc figures indicate beef finishers out of the shed need prices in the order of €4.50/kg.
Henry Burns said the IFA is strongly opposed to the imposition of carcase weight limits, which will have a very negative impact on the Irish beef sector and especially the suckler cow herd and quality cattle. He said this will also undermine the QPS. He pointed that average carcase weights in Ireland are below those in the UK, Italy, France and Germany.
The National Livestock Chairman said IFA will also be insisting that a number of important issues are advanced at the Beef Forum including real market access, increasing the age limit for prime cattle, improving DAFM controls on carcase trim and classification, resolving labelling issues, Quality assurance and maintaining our national suckler cow herd.