Speaking this evening after a meeting of the Beef Forum, IFA President Eddie Downey said unless the factories immediately increase the price to reflect the improved market returns in the UK, and address the specification issues, the Forum will have failed.
Eddie Downey said, “Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney confirmed that he will convene another meeting of the Beef Forum on November 12th and in the interim, he expects significant progress to be made on the market price and specification issues”.
Mr Downey said he made it very clear to the Minister and the factories at the Beef Forum that they 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.
The IFA President said the Minister told members of the Forum that ‘its primary focus was to ensure that farmers get a fair reflection of market returns’. Bord Bia made a detailed presentation on markets outlining that the price gap between Irish and UK cattle prices has widened to 96c/kg, or €350 per head. Representatives of Tesco and McDonalds, the two largest purchasers of Irish beef, addressed the Beef Forum and confirmed that they had not changed any of their specifications in the last 12 months.
The Minister agreed with IFA that trust had clearly broken down between processors and producers and farmers feel they are not getting a fair deal on price from the factories.
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 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.”