The processing industry has the ability to market increased quantities of beef into emerging world markets, producers were told at the Irish Limousin Cattle Society Carcass Competition 2018 awards.
Speaking at the presentations at Ashbourne Meats, Roscrea, AMP Group Manager, Jerry Meehan told the gathering of beef finishers that about 65pc of the prime animals slaughtered at the plant are being paid the in-spec quality assurance bonus "because we source good cattle and would not be particularly known for taking in Friesians".
However, concerns were expressed on the likely deterioration in grading and the requirement of the sector to return a living income to producers
Some farmers argued that the qualifying criteria for the payment is too restrictive.
There was a strong warning from the floor that "good cattle are going to get very scarce" because of the swing from suckler to high genetic merit dairy farming and the difference in carcase value could be as much as €500/hd.
One speaker said that "there is going to be a flood of dairy type cattle" for the beef industry and called for the industry "get the Jerseys out of the country" because of the threat to the beef industry from the perceived poor quality of dairy progeny.
Limousin Society secretary Paul Sykes said that there is concern over the depletion of the suckler herd and more support is need for the sector if it is to be maintained.
"The producers have to be able to make a satisfactory standard of living," he said.
Peter McMahon, head of marketing, Ashbourne Meats said the company are planning to process increased throughput in 2018 and a further increase in 2019.
"European demand in general is growing. There is good growth in Germany. There is good growth in Italy and Spain is recovering slightly," he said.
"The growth of the market in the last 12 months has been in the forequarter and manufacturing sector, more gourmet, more added value burger and not just mince meat," he said.
"Going forward we are earmarking markets as far as Asia, China, Japan but also Indonesia, Thailand - areas where they are consuming very little beef per head of population at the moment, markets where the Australians and New Zealand are.
High value beef
"Japan is a very wealthy nation, huge population, sourcing high value beef, with interest in the grass fed product and there is no reason why we can't compete in these markets" he added.
Danny Houlihan director of Ashbourne Meats said that there are concerns over the effect of Brexit .
With close to a million head of cattle going to the UK he questioned if we will be able to sell the beef to an alternative market if Brexit goes ahead.
IFA president Joe Healy said that support is needed for suckler farming to maintain farming in large areas of the country which are not suited to other types of farming, and ensure supplies of quality beef.
"While the suckler herd hit a peak in 2012, if you compare figures with 2007 they are pretty close to where they were then at around 950,000, despite a drop of about 14,000 over the past year.
"The suckler cow is resilient, the suckler farmers are resilient, but they need a bit extra help to keep going" he said.