IFA President Eddie Downey Warns of Farmer Action on Beef Unless Prices Rise in Line with Market Returns

IFA President Eddie Downey has warned that the massive cattle price gap that has opened up between Irish cattle prices and those in our main export market in the UK is intolerable. In an alert to all farmers, Eddie Downey said the beef price situation was totally unacceptable and unless this is addressed by the factories and prices increase in line with market returns, action will be taken.

Following a meeting of the IFA National Livestock Committee in Dublin this week, Eddie Downey said farmers are very clear and determined that beef prices at the factories must rise to fairly reflect the very strong increase in market prices in our largest export market in the UK. “The market situation has changed dramatically in recent weeks with prices in the UK, our main export market, increasing by an additional €100 per head. These price increases have to be reflected in returns to Irish farmers. Irish prices are now below the EU average.”

The IFA President called on the beef processors to reflect the stronger market returns in prices paid to farmers without any further delay.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said livestock farmers are very frustrated with the failure of the Minister of Agriculture Simon Coveney to deal with the important beef issues that have seriously damaged the sector and farm incomes since last January. He said farmers feel let down on the beef specification issues and the Minister failure to insist that the factories implement the Quality Payment System or price grid in a fair way in line with their agreement with suppliers.

Henry Burns said IFA has repeatedly requested Minister Coveney to deal with a number of issues on beef including resolving the problems for the live trade to the North, the need for more competition and transparency in the trade and for increased monitoring and controls on carcase trim, weights and classification for farmers in the factories.

Based on the most recent Bord Bia cattle price data, the price of R3 grade steers at the Irish meat factories was €3.72/kg incl vat for week ending October 4th 2014. The price of R3 grade steers in Great Britain for the same week was the equivalent of €4.75/kg. This amounts to a price difference of over €1/kg or €350 per head on the average animal. Bord Bia data also report R3 male cattle prices across the main EU Continental markets incl vat as follows; Northern Ireland R3 steers €4.52/kg, Italy R3 bulls €4.01/kg, France R3 bulls €3.83/kg, R3 steers €4.04/kg, Spain R3 bulls €3.86/kg, Germany R3 bulls €3.80/kg, R3 steers €4.19/kg.

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