Beef prices see live exports to UK crash
Stronger Irish beef prices have resulted in live exports of cattle to Northern Ireland and the UK being almost halved for the first nine months of this year.
Irish beef producers have been paid almost 6pc more by the processors in 2011 than their Northern Ireland and UK counterparts because of the tightening in supply to meet the demand of strong beef export markets this year.
The price advantage to Irish finishers is a reversal of the pattern in previous years during which the returns to Irish producers trailed the UK by up to 10pc.
So far in 2011, the supply of steers to Irish factories is down by 13.3pc and the heifer supply is 7.8pc lower than for the same period in 2010.
For the first nine months of the year, live exports of cattle to Northern Ireland are down by almost 46pc and exports to the UK are back by 43.4pc.
Some southern producers are continuing to sell into Northern Ireland because of a preference for the grading system in use by the factories there.
However, on price there is a benefit for Northern farmers to have their cattle slaughtered in the south.
Although beef prices have increased in both jurisdictions in 2011, the improvement in Ireland has been substantially higher than either Northern Ireland or the UK.