IFA President Joe Healy has written to the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed seeking an urgent meeting to address the serious situation for livestock farmers resulting from the severe factory price cuts over recent weeks.
He said cattle prices have been cut by over €100 per head in the last month, eroding any chance of profit for farmers selling cattle over the peak autumn months.
Joe Healy said Minister Creed and the Department of Agriculture have worked hard and made considerable progress on market access issues and interaction with UK retailers, and the Minister cannot allow the factories to undermine the value of this work with opportunistic beef price cuts. He said the Minister must insist that there is competition in the trade and market returns are fairly passed back to farmers. In addition, he must ensure that market access delivers real price gains and stability back to farmers.
The IFA President warned that the factories were undermining confidence in the trade at a critical time, and using the uncertainty around Brexit and the weakness of Sterling to cut beef prices.
He said market demand for beef remains strong. Cattle prices in our main export market in the UK are the equivalent of €4.42/kg including VAT, as reported by the ADHB and price increases in the UK market have outpaced the changes to the Sterling exchange rate over the last number of months. EU cattle prices are showing signs of improving, which would be expected at this time of year as the schools prepare to return.
In addition, Joe Healy said there is no overhang of stock as was the case from the EU dairy cow cull this time last year and the demand for manufacturing beef is very buoyant.