IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the Beef Forum will have to build on progress already made by delivering on key issues at its next meeting, which is set for July 21st.
These include the opening of new markets to deal with increasing cattle numbers, improved carcase classification and trim controls at the meat plants, the implementation of price transparency, adjustments to the AIMS system to properly count farm residencies, Quality Assurance, live exports and specifications which suit Irish production.
Henry Burns said the Beef Forum has proved to be very important in the recovery of the sector and cattle prices from the severe problems experienced throughout 2014. He said through the Forum, IFA has insisted that the Quality Payment System has operated properly with no dual base pricing by the factories and no cuts on breed, age weight or QA status.
The IFA Livestock leader said all projections indicate that finished cattle supplies will remain tight for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, with Bord Bia forecasting 100,000 head reduction in supplies at the factories. He said that 2015 calvings and registrations have increased and live exports are back, which mean that cattle supplies in 2017 will be higher. He said “The sector, led by the Minister, must act on this now and not wait for another problem in 2017”.
Henry Burns said Minister Coveney has to deliver for real on opening up new markets. He said it is clear there will be increased beef supplies in 2016/17 and we know from 2014 the industry cannot sell additional beef at viable cattle prices. “The Minister must get beef exports moving to the likes of the US and China. We have had all the announcements, but progress on getting exports moving is far too slow.”
The IFA Livestock leader said cattle prices are stronger this week with very strong demand and tighter supplies. He said the base price on steers is €4.30/kg with some factories offering €4.33 to €4.35 to get numbers. On heifers, he said the base price is €4.40, again with some factories offering more to get very scarce supplies. Bulls have also driven on in price with €4.35/4.40 being paid for R/U grades. Cows are also in strong demand with P and O grade making 380 and better quality O grades making €395, and Rs and U grades €410/415/kg.
Henry Burns said IFA met with the NFU Livestock representatives in Brussels last week and they are reporting supplies staying very tight for the rest of the year and a stronger trade. He said cattle prices in Britain continued to increase up another 5p to 6p/kg for week ending June 27th. R grade steers have now moved up to 353.6p/kg, which is equivalent to €5.15/kg incl vat.
He said the continuing strength of sterling is leaving returns from our main export market in the UK very positive.
The IFA Livestock leader said factory agents are actively ringing farmers looking for stock. He said any attempts to buy cattle at lower quoted prices have failed over the weekend and there is now an acceptance they are going to have to pay more. In addition, they are moving outside their usual catchment areas to get numbers.