IFA President John Bryan said there would be a very angry response on the ground if meat processors made any attempt to use the events of the last week against farmers on cattle prices. He said, “The market is stable and despite some negative talk among agents, there is no basis whatsoever for any pressure on cattle prices”.
John Bryan said some factory agents were attempting to instil uncertainty into the price situation and this was totally unacceptable. “IFA has been in contact with the major factory groups and has told them in no uncertain terms that any move to destabilise prices on the back of the current situation would meet with strong resistance from farmers. Factories must act responsibly and farmers cannot be penalised over what has happened in the last week.”
He said the base price for steers was €4.15 and €4.30 for heifers, with up to €4.35 paid at the week-end.
John Bryan, who attended Green Week in Berlin last week, said the equine DNA testing was not an issue across our important continental European markets. He said, “The equine DNA issue did not feature among the thousands of delegates attending this major international food event”.
John Bryan said, “Green Week, as the world’s largest food fair, is a good barometer of consumer sentiment. Based on the discussions at the formal and informal sessions, there is scope for Ireland to grow our existing markets for quality beef. The German market, for example, imports 17,000 tonnes of Irish beef and buyers are looking to increase this. In other countries where we export Irish beef, the level of coverage of the fall-out from the FSAI survey findings on Tuesday has not been significant”.
On the Department tests, John Bryan said it is critically important that we have a definitive conclusion as soon as possible to maintain the high reputation of Irish food production, and to re-assure consumers and retailers here and in the UK. “It is essential that the Department of Agriculture quickly identify the precise source of the equine DNA, and who is responsible for this product ending up in Irish burgers.”
He said “Farmers undertake a comprehensive system of cattle identification and traceability at farm level, comprising four key elements. These include double tagging at birth, issuing of an individual passport by the Department of Agriculture, completing the on-farm herd register and recording all movements on a computerised database”.