Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Beef forum confirms downward pressure on prices

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Another Beef forum has changed little for beef farmers, other than confirm that downward pressure on prices is likely to continue.

Bord Bia figures confirm that both Continental and Irish supplies are set to increase, with an extra 140,000 weanlings in the Irish pipeline alone.

Steer prices have fallen by 10pc over the last year, while the gap with British prices has halved to just 15c/kg.

However, Irish prices still maintain a significant premium over EU prices, with German, French and Spanish prices all 20-40c/kg lower.

A 25pc drop in live exports and little uptake on the Turkish market will also add to domestic cattle numbers over the coming 12 months.

However, it appears that the 44,000 drop in the number of 24-36 month stock may be just enough to keep weekly supplies to the factory close to the crucial 30,000 mark.

In addition, the move towards killing cattle at younger and lighter weights may soften the impact of the extra stock coming on-stream over the next two years.

The ICMSA's livestock spokesman, Michael Guinan said that prices have fallen by 37c/kg since July 2015, and by 18c/kg in 2016.

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However, he is hopeful that the US opening for burger beef and progress on the Chinese market will also give Irish prices a lift in the second half of 2016.

The IFA said that the 7pc fall in sterling, combined with a 10p/kg rise in British beef prices had only reduced returns for Irish beef exporters by 8c/kg instead of the 25-30c/kg cuts that have been imposed in recent weeks.

The roundtable meeting also looked at the implications of the latest EU proposals on climate change, developments in genomic evaluations, and the implementation of a national clean livestock policy.

Brexit unit

The minister also announced his intention to establish a meat implementation group to focus solely on the meat sector recommendations in the Food Wise 2025 strategy, and a Brexit unit to work on the challenges presented by that issue over the coming months.

The forum also heard how 70 marts have applied to the €300,000 fund to modernise ringside screens since the scheme was launched in May.

The eighth forum meeting was the first to be chaired by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. While stressing the ongoing importance of the forum, the minister warned that it was "not realistic to expect the forum to solve all of the issues of the market place".

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