Suckler farmers face 'wipeout' over loss of NI sales
Suckler farmers in the west of Ireland are facing a 'total wipeout' if the autumn trade for weanlings collapses, mart managers have warned.
There is growing concern that the absence of Northern Ireland buyers will see weanling bull prices fall back by €300-€350/head when sales commence next month.
This would be 25pc down on 2013 prices and reflects the overall drop of 80-85c/kg in the average beef price.
Martin Costelloe, Ballinasloe Mart manager, said there is serious concern in the region about the future for small suckler farmers.
"If the finishers are getting €300-€400/hd less at the factories and they pass that back to the autumn trade for the weanlings, the suckler farmers will get out. They'll be completely strangled and they won't survive it.
"Traditionally, Northern buyers were taking 300-400 cattle per week. They maintained the trade. They are all gone and it is a huge loss to the trade," he added.
"The big feeders in Northern Ireland want to get the supply of store cattle and weanlings from the South and the issue with the beef processors has to be resolved. I believe that the suckler farmers in the west are facing a total wipe-out this autumn without the Northern buyers, and there has to be an all-Ireland solution to it."
Roscommon mart manager Maura Quigley said she had never seen the prospects as bad. "If there is no change, the suckler farmers will be very badly hit and many of them are small and can't afford to take it," she added.