IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said cattle prices have stabilised this week with solid demand for steers and heifers and factories finding it much more difficult to get cattle. He said the base price for steers is €4.10 to €4.20/kg and €4.20 to €4.30/kg for heifers. He said farmers who are bargaining hard and resisting the lower quoted prices are getting the higher end prices.
The IFA Livestock leader said cattle and beef price stability is essential to stabilise the fragile suckler sector and halt the exodus in suckler cows. He said the Taoiseach Enda Kenny is very strong in his support for sucklers and it is essential this was not undermined in any way.
Henry Burns said prices in our main export market in the UK remain solid at the equivalent of €4.90/kg or a full 70c/kg or €250 per head over Irish prices. He said this level of price differential with our main export market cannot be justified by the factories. Bord Bia report the GB price at £4.06/kg which is equivalent to €4.92/kg.
The IFA Livestock leader said there is evidence that the European market is strengthen with Bord Bia reporting the trade being helped by on-going tight supplies across the key export markets.
Henry Burns said the combination of significantly cheaper feed costs this year and a settling of the EU beef price should help lift the live trade for weanlings and stores for the second half of the year. He said to date this year live exports are up 74% at 142,842 head. The big increases have come in calves exports, up over 50,000 head on last year with large increases to the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and France.
Weaning exports to Italy are back at 13,560 head but are expected to rise for the Autumn. The store trade to Northern Ireland is also back as a result of the strength of sterling and changes following the horsemeat scandal. However to date this year 21,317 cattle have gone North and a further 5,719 cattle have gone across the water to Great Britain.
Henry Burns said IFA is continuing to work hard on opening up the live trade to the UK with recent positive meetings with ferry companies, exporters and UK buyers. He said with the UK beef price at the equivalent of €4.90/kg, there is massive demand and huge potential for the live trade to the UK.
Henry Burns said IFA work in reopening the Libyan market was paying dividends with 7,424 cattle and almost 15,000 lambs shipped to date this year. Exports to Tunisia have also being active with 2,322 cattle shipped to date this year. Henry Burns said IFA were continuing to work hard to attract more exporters and get more ships cleared for export. He said the Department had cleared a number of ships and more applications are being actively considered. The IFA Livestock leader said the current pull on cattle prices by the factories was a clear message to Minister Coveney that there was an urgent need for more competition, more ships and more live exports.