Speaking in Clonee, Co Meath this afternoon at the beginning of IFA’s nationwide 48-hour beef protest, IFA President Eddie Downey said the refusal of the meat factory bosses to pass back market returns to beef producers was the reason that farmers would be protesting outside meat plants around the country between now and Tuesday afternoon.
Eddie Downey said, “IFA’s Executive Council and National Livestock Committee sanctioned further action unless the massive €350 gap between the UK beef prices and ourselves was addressed. The beef processors have to take responsibility for this situation. Even with incontrovertible market evidence that shows how the UK price has moved on by 30c/kg in recent months, they have continued to deny farmers a return that reflects improved market conditions”.
The IFA President said the resolve of farmers heading into the 48-hour protest was very strong. Farmers were assured all year that when market conditions improved, beef prices would move on to reflect this. “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.”
Eddie Downey said farmers are very determined that beef prices at the factories must rise to fairly reflect the very strong increase in UK cattle prices, where Irish beef sales are up 20% this year. Current prices in Britain for R grade steers are running at the equivalent of €4.70/kg incl vat, which is almost €1/kg higher than the €3.73/kg Irish price.
Teagasc has confirmed that livestock farm incomes are down 13% to 22% last year, ranging from €9,469 to €15,595.
Eddie Downey said IFA had engaged fully with the Beef Forum process. He said he was confident, based on intensive discussions last week that agreement could be reached on a wide range of issues at the Minister’s Beef Forum next Wednesday. “After over eight hours of discussions under the chairmanship of Michael Dowling with the meat factories on Friday last progress was made on a range of our concerns regarding specifications, but the issue of market price returns is separate to the Forum’s discussions and needs to be progressed by the meat factories immediately.”