Factories 'greed' is at root of beef crisis, claims IFA

Tim Cullinan

Martin Ryan

The country's beef processors have been accused of "hypocrisy and greed" on their beef pricing policies by a leading national IFA officer

IFA national treasurer Tim Cullinan (pictured) told farmers at an IFA North Tipperary executive meeting that the beef processors having put finishers "under sustained assault" are now engaged in "a tactic to collapse the price of stores (cattle)."

He also claimed that 4pc of beef export sales outside of EU markets was a very inadequate return from Bord Bia on a €40m budget partly funded by producers through a levy.

"We need to see a greater return from Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture having gone on numerous trade delegations around the globe since the Brexit vote in 2016," he said.

He called for an urgent collective approach from the Department, Bord Bia and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to restore confidence in the beef sector which he claimed is on the brink of total collapse.

Mr Cullinan warned that the "antics" of the factories have put suppliers under sustained attack by engaging in a race to the bottom for finishers.

"If factories are interested in sustaining a supply of quality cattle, they need to implement price increases immediately, or this will be the death knell of the beef sector as we know it," he said.

Tim Harty, Tipperary North livestock committee chairman, said that "factories are putting suppliers on a waiting list, but all they have in stock is a one-week supply - there is no glut of beef in cold storage contrary to what farmers are being told".

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He insisted that the processors are intent on the continuation of the price slide and appear determined to cut "the base for steers down to €3.50c/kg within weeks".

A number of speakers at the meeting highlighted that the majority of beef finishers were now surviving on alternative sources of income and will not continue to finish beef animals.

Meanwhile, writing in today's Farming Independent, the former IFA livestock chairman Derek Deane claimed the "beef sector will go the way of beet" without urgent Government intervention on supports and pricing.

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