Kepak says 100,000/hd backlog of cattle in market will take 'months' to clear

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Kepak Group his this evening issued a stark warning over the implications of any further increase to the backlog of cattle and sheep caused by the prolonged illegal blockades of its processing plants.

In a statement it said suppliers of cattle should be aware that by the end of this week it is estimated that there will be a 100,000 backlog in the market which is increasing at approximately 6,000 cattle per day.

"It will take months to work through the backlog as the market preference will be for under 30-month cattle when processing recommences. Over-age animals will put increased pressure on already depressed beef markets, an issue further exacerbated by the fact that certain European customers have already moved to alternative markets to source their supply," the company said.

Angus Beef Ireland, a producer group representing 7,000 farmers of premium Angus cattle, also has called on the blockades that have shut down the beef processing industry to be lifted.

Members of the group typically sell 1,000 cattle each week to Irish and EU customers, but are prevented from selling their factory-ready animals due to the blockades.

Angus Beef Ireland says the protests are hurting farmers financially and damaging international demand for the highest quality Irish beef.

Protests have plagued the sector for weeks as farmers picket the gates of meat producing plants across Ireland over the price of beef, which is at its lowest in years.

Many farmers claim they are struggling to survive and will be forced out of business without Government intervention.

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An agreement was reached between farmers and beef processors following 30 hours of talks, organised by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed over the weekend.

Protesting farmers lifted a blockade at Dawn Meats’ Slane plant today, with a statement from the Independent Farmers saying they hoped farmers throughout the country at other pickets would follow suit.

In its statement, Independent farmers said they hoped the step down of the picked at Slane would be seen as a positive step by other protesting farmers. It said their faith now lies in Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. “It appears to us that the peaceful pickets have achieved all they can and it is now time to enter the next stage of this process.”

However, a number of farmers the Farming Independent spoke to at today's National Ploughing Championships said they would continue protesting.

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