Commenting on the report of the beef price differential between Northern Ireland and Great Britain published by the LMC this week, IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the report is very clear in identifying a significant price gap in the order of 14p to 21p/kg for prime R grade steers in the years 2009-2012 which is equivalent to €62 to €94 per animal. He said the report also highlights the fact that the price differential has widened significantly and was a lot higher in the Autumn of 2012 at over 40p/kg or €180 per head.
Henry Burns said in Ireland we know that the price differential between Irish cattle prices and those in Great Britain are much wider than those between Northern Ireland and GB. The facts are that the latest Bord Bia data for week ending December 7th shows that the price differential for R3 steers between Ireland and GB is currently at 83c/kg or €300per animal.
The IFA Livestock leader said the report is weak on identifying the lack of price competition as a factor for the price differential. However the report highlights the fact that “the live export trade to GB has been underutilised and recommends support for the live trade which in turn would help redress the price differential”.
Henry Burns said IFA has consistently highlighted the absence of a strong live export trade between Ireland and GB as a key reason for the unacceptable price differential. He said live exports are vital for price competition and the lack of price competition is the key factor why the price differential is so wide.
The IFA Livestock Leader said it is the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture to provide market access for Irish farmers and ensure that there is proper price competition in the beef price and trade. He said Minister Coveney must tackle and resolve the issues that are denying Irish farmers open access and competition to the GB market for live cattle. “There is no doubt that this would increase Irish beef prices and help reduce the unacceptable price differential with GB.”