An IFA/UFU livestock meeting in Dublin called on the meat factories both sides of the border to immediately halt the slide in beef prices and stabilise the trade. IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said farmers in Northern Ireland and the Republic remain frustrated that prices continue to lag significantly behind those in Great Britain and factories simply cannot justify the massive price gap in the order of €250 per head that they have opened up with our most important market.
On lamb prices IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy said the lamb trade both North and South has stabilised at prices of €4.90 to €5.00/kg. He said supplies are tight as a result of weaning and compliance with fly strike controls.
James Murphy said it is essential there is no soft selling of lamb and farmers should fully finish their lambs to maximise returns. He said more of the forecasts for the second half of the year are pointing to tighter supplies in Ireland and across the UK. In addition the latest figures emerging from New Zealand are predicting numbers to be back several millions as a result of the severe drought earlier this year.
On lamb sales and consumption, James Murphy said it is vitally important retailers continue to positively push lamb sales and Bord Bia and the LMC continue to strongly promote lamb.
On implementation of the recent CAP Reform, the IFA/UFU meeting agreed that there must be strong targeted support for the livestock sector geared at suckler cows and breeding ewes. IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the real issue is about maintain our suckler cow herd and national ewe flock, together with the associated €6bn in economic output, exports and jobs that they deliver to the national economy. He said coupling is only part of this debate. The bigger picture is maintaining the largest and most important farming sector on the island.
Henry Burns pointed out that a recent study on the livestock sector commissioned by IFA and undertaken by Agricultural Economics Professor Alan Renwick from University College Dublin clearly shows every €1 invested in direct payments in livestock delivers a return of €4 in economic output in the wider economy. “There is an irrefutable case for investing strong pillar 1, pillar 2 and national funding in targeted payments for suckler cows and ewes.”
The Livestock delegation from the Irish Farmers Association included National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns, National Sheep Chairman James Murphy and Kevin Kinsella Director of Livestock. The Ulster Farmers Union delegation included Robert Davidson UFU Beef and Lamb Chairman, Crosby Cleland UFU Beef and Lamb Committee and Gill Gallagher UFU policy officer.