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IFA President Joe Healy has strongly criticised the meat factories for overhyping the Brexit result in their rush to pull cattle prices.

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IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey said IFA will meet Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the lamb processors this week on prices and the need to stabilise the market at this important time for the sector.

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IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said factories are using carcase weight cuts to flatten the beef price on winter finishers in an attempt to get cheaper beef. He said with only 10% of our finished beef cattle over 420 kgs carcase weight, factories and Bord Bia are failing our best and most productive suckler farmers in the market place with penal weight limits.

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IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said the factories are attempting to erode confidence in the beef trade by threatening price and weight cuts to try and force out scarce supplies of cattle.

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IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns has said cattle supplies at the factories are very tight with procurement managers and agents ringing farmers looking for stock and cutting deals above the quoted price to get cattle. He said agents are saying that they are unable to buy the cattle at the lower quoted prices of €4.25 for steers and €4.35 for heifers and are having to part with €4.30 and €4.40/kg.

Henry Burns said some agents have tried the lower prices and failed to fill loads with some saying they got the easy few but most lads are digging in hard and insisting on the €4.30 and €4.40, especially outside the few southern counties. He said some agents have just given up on the lower quoted and reverted to €4.30 and €4.40 to get stock. In contrast, he said some factories are putting out the impression that they have adequate numbers.

The facts are that the kill is currently running at 29,470 head per week.Total slaughtering’s are already down about 40,000 head. The latest AIMS data from Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture shows that cattle numbers on June 1st in the 12 to 36 month age categories are down 100,000 head, compared to 2014. Bord Bia are forecasting that finished cattle supplies will be back by up to 100,000 head over the next 12 months. Henry Burns said this will leave supplies very scarce into the autumn and the end of the year.

The IFA Livestock leader said the market remains very solid with the UK reporting another price lift of 2p/kg for week July 18th. R4L prices in the UK for steers are reported at £3.66/kg, which is equivalent to €5.50/kg. He said the UK trade is being driven by the strength of sterling. At an exchange rate of 71p/€ compared to 80p this time last year, this change is worth 60c/kg in additional returns.

The IFA Livestock leader pointed out that the official prices from the Department of Agriculture continue to show increases with R3 steers at €4.40/kg for week ending July 26th and heifers at €4.52/kg. Official bull prices are at €4.14/kg for Os, €4.33/kg for Rs and €4.45/kg for Us. Henry Burns pointed that cow price is ranging from €3.76/kg for P+ to €3.83 for Os, €4.02 for Rs and €4.15 for U grades. These prices for steers, heifers and cows are all showing a 2c/kg increase from the previous week.

An analysis of some of the official Department paid prices from the factories show that some plants paid an average of €4.49/kg for R=3= steers and an average of €4.66/kg for R=3= heifers. He said this shows that factories are paying way over the quoted prices to get stock. In addition it shows that producers with quality stock, getting the in spec bonuses are getting well rewarded.

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