Speaking at the AIB National Livestock Show in Tullamore Co Offaly, IFA President Eddie Downey said the announcements from the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and the Government on access to new beef markets to the US and China must be turned into real delivery and increased exports.
Eddie Downey said Minister Coveney needs to take action now on removing the technical obstacles holding back exports to these new markets in order to deal with increased cattle numbers in the pipeline for 2017 and to prevent a repeat of the severe beef price and income problems of 2014. He said there must be real delivery on getting real access to new markets.
The IFA President said it was very clear from the recent Beef Forum meeting that a lot more work needs to be done in getting more beef plants approved for export to the US. In addition, the Forum was also told that Ireland is still working on clearance for manufacturing beef exports to the US, with Minister Coveney saying he is confident of delivering access for manufacturing beef to the US in the next number of months.
Eddie Downey said Minister Coveney also needs to make progress on a number of other important beef issues including increasing the age limit for prime cattle from 30 to 36 months, increased monitoring of carcase trim at the meat plants, more live exports, market transparency, and using the Department AIMS system to count relevant residencies.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said in the last two weeks the factories have tried to destabilise the beef market and frighten farmers into selling cattle at lower quoted prices. He added that despite the propaganda from the meat plants, cattle supplies remain very tight and some plants were paying above quoted prices to get numbers.
Henry Burns said at the moment there is a very fine line in the balance between supply and demand, and it is clear that supplies will remain tight over the coming weeks and months. He said the facts from the latest Department AIMS data for June 1st, as presented by Bord Bia, is that there are 100,000 less cattle in the 12 to 36 month old age bracket, compared to this time last year. This will leave finished cattle supplies tight for the rest of 2015 and into 2016. In addition, this data also shows that calf registrations for 2015 are up 116,000 head, with most of the increase occurring in Angus and Hereford calves from the dairy herd.
On markets, Henry Burns said the UK remains very strong, with the latest AHDB R3 steer price for Aug 1st at £3.57/kg, which is equivalent to €5.36/kg incl vat. With the sterling exchange rate at 70p to the €uro, compared to 80p this time last year, he said this exchange rate change is worth an additional 67c/kg in returns from the UK market.