Speaking at the IFA farmers protest in Dublin earlier this week, IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the cattle price cuts at the factories have to stop. He said livestock farmers have seen prices cut by 30c/kg or over €100/head in the last four to five weeks. Henry Burns said that these price cuts cannot be justified and he called on Minister Coveney to demand that the factories stop the price cuts.
The IFA Livestock leader told the 2,500-strong crowd at the protest outside the EU Commission office that cattle prices in our main export market in the UK have stabilised and actually increased in the last week. He said UK prices for R3 steers are the equivalent of €4.98/kg, incl. vat.
Henry Burns said that there is a very strong view in the sector that supplies of steers and heifers will tighten considerably in the next few weeks. He said all of the forecasts from Bord Bia and the Department AIMS data point to a tightening in prime cattle supplies. The AIMS data for June 1st shows that the number of cattle in the 12 to 36 month age category is down 100,000 head compared to 2014 levels. “With the steer kill up 38,000 head to date this year and the heifer kill on par with last year, supplies of steers and heifers for the remainder of 2015 are going to get very tight. This will leave farmers selling in a stronger position.”
The IFA livestock leader said factories are struggling to get cattle at less than the base price of €4.00/kg for steers and €4.10/kg for heifers. He said some factories were trying lower quoted prices but having to pay €4.00/kg base to get stock.
Speaking at a meeting of the COPA Beef Working Group in Brussels this week, Henry Burns called on Minister Coveney to insist that beef is firmly on the EU Farm Council agenda meeting in Europe next week. He said the EU needs to deal with the fallout from the Russian ban and other market access issues.
IFA has made it very clear to Minister Coveney he must turn the announcements on market access to the US and China into real exports. “The time for the media headlines is over and farmers want to see some real delivery from the Minister. We want access for manufacturing beef to the US market.”
Henry Burns also demanded that Minister Coveney insists that the EU Commission provides a 75% advance payment for the basic payment and greening from October 16th. He said livestock farm incomes are already very low and under serious pressure.