IFA President Joe Healy this week said the beef price cuts at the factories must stop as they are perpetrating serious financial losses on livestock farmers and inflicting permanent damage on the Irish beef sector.
Joe Healy called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to immediately convene a meeting of the Beef Forum to address the income crisis situation in the beef sector. He said the excessive factory price cuts have undermined confidence in the sector.
The IFA President said farmers cannot take any more losses and prices must be restored to viable levels. He added that we are now heading into peak demand for the Christmas trade.
“Based on prices in our largest export market in Britain and taking account of the Sterling exchange rate, Irish cattle prices can rise.”
Joe Healy said cattle prices in our main export market in Britain have increased by 41p/kg since May 1st 2016. The R3 steer price in Britain for week ended October 8th was £3.62/kg. At an exchange rate of 90p/€, this price is equivalent to €4.23/kg including VAT. Compared to the official R3 reported Irish price of €3.80/kg for Oct 8th, the British price is 43c/kg above Irish cattle prices or about €160 per head higher.
Joe Healy said IFA representatives are set to meet with factories at local level over the next few days to highlight the rising anger and concern among farmers over loss-making cattle prices.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said Irish cattle prices have fallen from a base of €4.10/4.20/kg (Steers/Heifers) in June (pre-Brexit) to €3.65/3.75/kg. This is a reduction of 45c/kg or about €165 per head and has left beef farmers selling cattle in a serious loss-making situation. Last year, the R3 Bord Bia reported price for week ended October 10th at €4.01/kg including VAT.
Angus Woods pointed out that for week ending 13/10/2016 the average EU R3 steer price was €4.06/kg including VAT and the average EU R3 beef price was €3.78/kg including VAT.
Angus Woods said despite strong market demand at this time, the latest increase in weekly cattle supplies and associated price cuts to unviable levels at the factories highlights again the serious competition and marketing weaknesses in the Irish beef sector.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said another shipment of live cattle set sail to Turkey again this week. He said this shipment involves 3,000 head of younger weanling stock ranging in weights from 250 to 350kgs. IFA is lobbying for another dedicated livestock vessel to be cleared to by the Department of Agriculture so as live export levels can be increased. He said several additional shipments are planned to go to Turkey before Christmas.