Some Positive Signs on Beef, but Minister Must Address Financial Crisis on Farms
IFA National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said there are some small positive signs on the cattle price side, with some factories paying a base of €3.45/kg for steers and €3.50/kg for heifers this week as the numbers of in-spec finished cattle continue to tighten.
Some factories have broken the €3.40/kg base price barrier to get stock. As was expected based on the AIMs data, the number of in-spec finished cattle has tightened and will continue to get tighter over the coming weeks.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said cow prices are also rising with good R grade cows up 15/20c/kg over the last week to 10 days, reflecting increased market demand for manufacturing beef based on higher retail sales and as some burger and manufacturing plants plan to re-open.
With major increases in retail sales, Brendan Golden called on supermarkets to pass back some of the higher revenues from consumers back down the chain to hard-pressed farmer finishers.
“Agriculture Minister Michael Creed can no longer ignore the financial calamity that has played out on beef finishing farms before and since the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
Prior to COVID-19, beef prices were extremely poor due mainly to Brexit uncertainty and exchange rate problems and farmers selling cattle were facing losses in the order of €100 per head. Since then, beef prices have fallen from a base of €3.65/kg to €3.40/kg and inflicted another €100 per head in price losses.
The IFA livestock leader said Minister Creed must add to the unspent BEAM funding and immediately put in place a direct payment scheme to help make up for the price losses on finishing farms this spring.
Regarding the APS scheme announced by the EU Commission, Brendan Golden said IFA has lobbied hard in Brussels to get market support and has also lobbied this week to have the scheme extended to cover O grade animals and boneless cuts. He said the factories have to respond and this must be reflected in some benefits in terms of improved prices back to farmers.
He said the EU Commission will have to introduce an emergency EU financial aid package for those Member States where COVID-19 problems have resulted in significant market and price losses.
The Commission has all the data on the price and income losses pre and post COVID-19 and is in a position to target direct income support to the farmers in the Member States that have been affected the most.
He said “Family farmers selling 50 cattle are facing losses of €10,000. They simply cannot afford this level of loss, especially having come through two very difficult years in 2018 and 2019”.