Factories attempt to cut prices to €3.80/kg on back of sterling slump
The price battle between beef farmers and factories intensified this week, with beef processors pushing to get base quotes for bullocks back to €3.80c/kg.
The latest push on price came in the wake of continuing uncertainty over Brexit and the fall in sterling relative to the euro.
The euro hardened to 91p in recent days, as markets reacted negatively to the latest British government position papers on the UK's future trading relationship with the EU.
The euro's surge has been bad news for cattle prices, with beef processors maintaining that the latest currency increase had seriously dented the competitiveness of Irish beef on the crucial British market.
"At the moment it seems the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is deepening rather than dissipating which is clearly playing out in the continued weakening of sterling. The more sterling weakens, the greater the challenge for exporters to the UK market," said Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII).
"The value of sales are reduced and competitiveness is undermined. The fact that the US dollar has weakened by 11pc against the euro over the last number of months is also impacting on international sales outside the Eurozone."
This view is challenged by the farm organisations. A senior official in the IFA argued that movements in the value of sterling merited a 10c/kg price cut at most. He pointed out that the meat factories had already pulled quotes by 15c/kg from a high of 405c/kg, and were now trying a further 10c/kg cut.
IFA president Joe Healy said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed can no longer ignore the major cuts in cattle prices at the meat factories.