IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has urged farmers selling cattle to dig in and insist on a substantial price increase from the factories, which are well fit to pay based on stronger Christmas demand and the significant improvement in sterling.
Angus Woods said numbers of in-spec stock have tightened dramatically this week with agents reporting that they cannot get numbers at quoted prices and are having to pay more. Angus Woods said the change in sterling in our main export market from 89p back to 85p/€ is worth 20c/kg in a price improvement.
Angus Woods said the grass cattle are now gone and winter finishers need a substantial price increase to cover costs and move cattle out of sheds. He said traditional winter finishers are not going to feed cattle at a loss and many are considering putting stock to grass next spring. He said beef prices are rising and base prices of €3.70/3.75/kg for steers have been paid this week with €3.80/3.85/kg paid for heifers. He said these prices need to go a lot further in the lead into Christmas.
The IFA Livestock Leader said, “With the forecast for an additional 100,000 head of cattle next year, a strong live export trade is vital for calves, weanlings, stores and finished cattle. Live exports are essential for competition and to support market balance and viable prices, as well as additional market outlets”. He called on the Department of Agriculture to increase resources and dedicated personnel on market access and to prioritise the live trade. In addition, he said Minister Creed must work to remove the barriers on the live trade to Northern Ireland and Britain.
Angus Woods said a boat taking up to 4,000 weanlings was loaded this week for Turkey and another boat is being loaded for store cattle for Libya. He said IFA worked hard to open the Turkish market for live exports and it was positive to see ships sailing every odd week at this stage.
Angus Woods called on the Government to mount a strong response at national and EU level to the challenge from Brexit. He said the collapse in beef prices blamed on Brexit is a market disturbance, similar to the Russian ban, and justifies direct action by the EU Commission.