Farm Ireland

Monday 25 March 2019

Brexit price slump hits beef farmers for €26m

ICMSA President Pat McCormack.
ICMSA President Pat McCormack.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Beef farmers have taken a €26m hit from the Brexit-linked price slump in the first six weeks of the year, an analysis has shown.

Cows and young bulls have taken the biggest dent, with the 17pc drop in prices paid for cows year on year wiping over €9m off their value.

Farmers running the more feed-intensive young bull systems have been counting their losses, with difficulties getting animals killed, coupled with a 9pc price slump, reducing payments by €6m.

"The reality for beef farmers is that Brexit is having a direct impact on farm income today and has been since the start of the year - and this applies to calf, weanling, store and finished cattle producers," said ICMSA president Pat McCormack.

"Not only are farmers losing in terms of cattle slaughtered, many farmers, in particular bull beef producers, are finding it extremely difficult to get cattle sold, and cattle are going outside the factory specifications."

Mr McCormack said an ICMSA analysis of Bord Bia data in the first six weeks of the year compared with the same period in 2018 estimates the total losses for the first six weeks stand at €26m.

Following last week's 11th meeting of the Brexit Stakeholder Consultative Committee, Mr McCormack said farmers and businesses were no wiser on the outcome of Brexit today than they were after the first meeting.

However, he pointed out that farmers, particularly beef farmers, operating calf, weanling, store and finishing systems are losing money today due to Brexit uncertainty. Mr McCormack said politicians were turning a blind eye to this.

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"Farmers have a simple question: will these losses be dealt with as part of the Brexit fallout plan? And let us be clear, these losses won't disappear, whether it is a no deal, hard or soft Brexit.

"These losses are in the system and they need to be addressed," he said.

"It is an absolutely crazy situation that farmers and the wider Agri-food sector do not know what trading arrangements will apply with our biggest trading partner in less than a month and what exact supports our Government and EU intend to implement."

He said farmers have heard politicians say they will support the farm sector but the reality is that no funding has been put on the table.

"We need to see concrete supports put in place immediately to provide a degree of confidence to the sector that support will be actually put in place and will make a real difference to farmers. Farmers are already counting the cost, €26m on the beef side and increasing by the day, we need answers," said Mr McCormack.

Following the Brexit meeting, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said they were continuing to prepare for all scenarios and they would do all they could to "minimise the impact".

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