IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns has dismissed the comments by Meat Industry Ireland, saying they cannot explain why the factories have refused to pass back the higher UK market prices for beef to Irish farmers. He added UK prices have increased by over €100 per head in recent weeks and are now over €1/kg or €350 per head above Irish prices. He added that Irish prices are now also below the EU average.
Henry Burns said farmers are very angry over the way the factories have hammered them on price and specification cuts all year.
The IFA Livestock leader said there is very strong support on the ground for the countrywide 24-hour beef price protest by farmers outside all meat factories from 3pm next Monday 27 October until Tuesday afternoon.
Henry Burns said our message to the factories is very clear: “Farmers have had enough and are not prepared to tolerate loss-making prices any longer, especially when our main markets are returning much higher prices.”
“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 to make a small margin and €4.50/kg to make a return on investment and labour.”
Henry Burns 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 €4.74/kg incl vat, which is €1/kg higher than the €3.73/kg Irish price.
Henry Burns said livestock farmers are very angry with the failure of the Minister of Agriculture Simon Coveney to tackle the factories on the 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’s 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.
The IFA Livestock leader said the most recent Teagasc National farm Income survey data shows that incomes on livestock farms are extremely low. Teagasc has confirmed that livestock farm incomes are down 13% to 22% last year, ranging from €9,469 to €15,595.