Factories under fire over 'scandalous' beef prices
IFA claims farmers are 'being shafted' as gap between Irish and British prices widens to €250/hd
Beef factories and the IFA are on a collision course after processors have again moved to cut prices ahead of what they predict will be a very difficult autumn and winter for the sector.
Efforts by the factories to cut beef prices by a further 5c/kg this week to 370c/kg for steers and 380c/kg for heifers have prompted a furious reaction from the IFA.
"It is a scandal the way the meat factories have systematically cut cattle prices here, forcing prices down well below the cost of production and inflicting severe losses on farmer suppliers," claimed IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods.
Industry sources said the factory cuts were not being pushed in a stringent manner, and most cattle were still being bought at last week's quotes of 375c/kg and 385c/kg for steers and heifers respectively.
But with last week's kill holding at over 38,000hd, finishers predict that the total kill could breach the 40,000hd threshold over the coming weeks which would ease the way for further price cuts. Since mid-August the factories have pulled quotes by 20c/kg or the equivalent of €70-80/hd.
Mr Woods pointed out that during the same period British steer prices have risen to the equivalent of €4.47/kg (£3.80/kg) which equates to a differential of €250/hd between Irish and British steer prices.
"Livestock farmers feel they are being shafted and are not prepared to take it any longer," Mr Woods said.
However, Kepak CEO Sean Coffey told a Dairygold meeting in Cork that Europe was awash with beef because of the fodder crisis and weather conditions.