Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s meeting of the Beef Forum, IFA President Eddie Downey said the meat factories must respond to this week’s 24-hour beef protest by addressing the massive €350 per head price gap that has now opened up with our main export market in the UK.
With UK beef prices increasing by 30c/kg (€100 per head) in the last number of weeks, Eddie Downey said there is no excuse for the factories to withhold a price increase to farmers. He said there is no credible explanation why the strong price increase in the UK, which takes over half of our exports, is not reflected in higher prices to Irish farmers. Irish beef sales to the UK are up 20% this year.
The IFA President said, “At today’s Beef Forum, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has to address all of the beef issues that have damaged the sector since last January. Farmers feel let down on the beef specification issues and the Minister’s must insist that the factories implement the Quality Payment System or price grid in a fair way in line with their agreement with suppliers”.
IFA has repeatedly requested Minister Coveney to deal with a number of issues on beef including resolving the problems for the live trade to the North, the need for more competition and transparency in the trade and for increased monitoring and controls on carcase trim, weights and classification for farmers in the factories.
The IFA President said for the past 12 months, farmers have being hammered with loss-making prices and specification cuts that have decimated their incomes. “Farmers cannot continue to sell cattle at a loss. Teagasc figures show that on our most efficient farms, producers need a base price of at least €4.00/kg.”
Eddie Downey said farmers are very determined that beef prices at the factories must rise to fairly reflect the very strong increase in UK cattle prices, where Irish beef sales are up 20% this year. Current prices in Britain for R grade steers are running at the equivalent of €4.74/kg incl vat, which is €1/kg higher than the €3.73/kg Irish price.