IFA President, Joe Healy, has called on the meat factories to reverse the beef price cuts and restore some level of confidence to producers. He said that based on the market returns from the UK, it is clear the factories could easily reverse some of the price cuts of recent weeks and increase returns to Irish farmers currently selling at a loss.
Mr Healy said factories have cut beef prices in Ireland by up to 20c/kg since September 1st, while prices in our main export market in the UK have increased by 2-3p/kg per week, every week since early May. He said, currently beef prices in the UK are £3.64/kg, which is equivalent to €4.43/kg including VAT. This week factories are quoting €3.70/kg for R3 grade steers in Ireland, opening up a massive gap of 70c/kg or €250 per head with prices in our best and nearest export market.
The IFA President said the market figures clearly show that the price cutting tactics of the meat factories are unjustified and have driven livestock farmers into serious loss making territory as well as shaken confidence in the sector.
Mr Healy said the last available set of AIMS data from the Department of Agriculture on cattle supplies show that numbers in the 24-36 month age category for beef cattle are well down by 44,000 head compared to 2015 figures. He said in the last three weeks supplies have been strong and a lot of cattle have been killed and this could leave supplies tighter in the weeks and months ahead. He added that factories had taken advantage of the bad weather and increased supplies in western and northern counties in recent weeks to unfairly pull prices.
The IFA President said the first boat load of live cattle are arriving in Turkey and hopefully many more shipments will follow over the coming weeks and months. He said shippers are actively buying in the marts and the live trade had brought competition as well as putting a floor in the price as the autumn weanling sales had kicked in.