'I can't afford to put diesel in my van with the beef price I'm getting'

Frontline: Patrick Crowe protesting outside the Kepak plant near Ennis
Frontline: Patrick Crowe protesting outside the Kepak plant near Ennis

Dan Danaher

Clare farmer Patrick Crowe is one of those who have stood outside factory gates in recent weeks in the battle for a fair return from their cattle.

The beef farmer from Carabane, Kilmurry McMahon told the Farming Independent that more than 20 years ago he went out to meet former Agriculture Joe Walsh in Brussels to see if he could convince him to help farmers.

Please log in or register with Farming Independent for free access to this article.

Log In

At that time, farmers were getting 38pc of the retail price of beef. He said farmers, who were "crippled" by low prices were now trying to increase their share of the retail price from 20pc to 45pc to make a living.

"The consumer is still paying the same amount of money for meat. There is no reason why I should be penalised because I am producing a perfect product yet the factories still will not pay me properly.

"If I was getting 63pc of the retail price of beef I would be wealthy. I would be able to buy clothes for my kids more than once a year," he said.

"If I was getting €4.20 for bulls, €4.30 for steers and €4.40 for heifers, €3,50 for cows and aged bulls, I can make a profit. I have 55 suckling cows and I bring the calves through to finish.

"If we don't get these prices, as small farmers we go broke."

The recent talks, he said, achieved nothing for beef farmers.

Get the latest news from the Farming Independent team 3 times a week.

"I produce a quality product but no one wants to pay me for it. I am not a greedy man."

Patrick, who has a wife and four daughters, said he can't afford to put diesel in his van with the beef price he is getting.

"If I sell more cattle at the price I am getting, I will be cutting my other wrist. If I do it for the third time, I will be cutting my throat.

"I have four beautiful healthy girls. I want to mind them and buy shoes for them, buy clothes and their school bag.

"My jeep is 2005. If I get driven off the land, the schools will close, the shops will close, the post offices are going.

"I can't afford to feed cattle. I have 13 cattle that I would like to finish at Christmas time. I can't afford to buy nuts to finish them. If I do, I put myself in a bigger hole," he said.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said the producer share of the retail beef price is closer to two-thirds.

It says the current price pressure in the sector is linked to depressed demand for beef in European and UK markets and uncertainty surrounding Brexit. "Based on independently published data on Irish retail sales prices, on the mix of beef cuts purchased by Irish consumers and the yield factors involved, the actual price paid to beef producers represents 63pc of the average retail beef price on a carcase weight equivalent."

Indo Farming

For Stories Like This and More
Download the Free Farming Independent App