Farm Ireland

Friday 19 October 2018

Export results provide little return to cattle, sheep and tillage farmers - ICSA

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The agri-food export results, which were announced this week by Bord Bia, provide little return for cattle, sheep or tillage farmers the ICSA has said.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said the announcement of record food and drink exports of €12.6 billion for 2017 again starkly illustrates that cattle, sheep and tillage farmers are not getting a fair share.

“In 2017, suckler farms saw no increase in income, sheep farmers a marginal change and tillage farmers had another bad year. While dairy farmers did have a good year, all other sectors continue to work harder just to stand still while others reap the benefits. The results might be good for the country but there is little return to cattle, sheep or tillage farmers."

Farmers, he said, are working harder and producing more but continue to get a shrinking share of the final retail price.

"The reality is that increased output makes for great headlines but is doing nothing for farmers except significantly increase their workload. This increased workload provides more and more profits for processors and retailers while cattle and sheep farmers continue to operate with minimal incomes. The endeavour of farmers is making others rich."

Commenting on the continued growth to the UK market despite Brexit fears Mr Kent said it provides a useful reminder that farmers should not allow the food industry to talk down primary producer prices every time there is a currency fluctuation.

He also called for more details from Bord Bia on the €900m figure given for non-edible products. "This is an interesting new figure which is in addition to the €12.6 billion which refers to consumable food and drink exports."

The organisation, he said, would like a precise breakdown on how much animal skins and hides, and other by-products from meat processing such as cosmetics were worth in 2017.

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"I have been asking for a long time at the beef forum for more transparency on what the so-called fifth quarter is worth.  Farmers get absolutely nothing from meat factories for fifth quarter products (farmers only get paid for the meat on two fore-quarters and two-hindquarters) and it is time we had more transparency over what this is worth to them.”

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