Speaking at the IFA Beef and Suckler campaign meeting in Ballinasloe last night, IFA President Joe Healy said Minister Creed has one week left before the Budget to secure additional support for sucklers. He said, “Time is fast running out before the Budget for Minister Creed, and it’s vitally important that he delivers for sucklers next week”.
Joe Healy said IFA and livestock farmers from all over the country will be protesting outside the Beef Forum at the Department of Agriculture on Kildare St tomorrow Wed, Oct 3rd. at 10.00am with a strong message for both the Minister and the factories. “Cattle farmers are furious with the way the Minister has allowed the factories to run amok and systematically cut cattle prices to loss making levels while at the same time prices are rising in our main export market in the UK.”
Joe Healy said the factories have used Minister Creed, flying around the world opening markets and driving exports, while at the same time cutting prices paid to farmers. He said what has happened this year is a real case of the tail wagging the dog and farmers are being asked to carry the costs in loss making beef prices.
The IFA President said the income pressure on cattle farms was a breaking point, following the severe weather conditions all year and the massive increase in costs. He said the way the factories have cut prices over recent weeks is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. The Teagasc national Farm survey data shows that for 2017, the average income on cattle rearing farms was only €12,529.
“Since mid-July the factories have hammered prices down from a base of €4.00/kg to €3.75 and now trying €3.70. They took advantage of farmers in the drought and used the weather and costs against them”.
He said “Factories have torn the hell out of prices and forced them down well below the cost of production. This also eroded confidence in the market place and wrecked the mart price for weanlings and stores. In late August/September, prices in our main export market in the UK started to rise, up 15p/kg in over 4 weeks. At the same time the factories turned up the heat on prices here and inflicted severe damage on farm incomes”.
“During this period, despite repeated requests, the Minister never lifted a finger against the factories. He called in the banks, he worked with the co-ops on the fodder issue but never said a word to the meat factories. He gave them free rein and let them run amok”.
Joe Healy said the Beef Forum protest is a warning shot for Minister Creed. “The Minister must deliver on sucklers in next week’s Budget. Minister Creed has to show he is on the side of farmers”.