Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

IFA calls on Creed to intervene over factory beef price cuts

Some factories were “flooded” with cattle last week.
Some factories were “flooded” with cattle last week.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed can no longer ignore the major cuts in cattle prices at the meat factories that have left beef farmers facing losses this year, IFA President Joe Healy has said.

He said cattle prices have been cut by more than €100 per head in the last month, eroding any chance of profit for farmers selling cattle over the peak autumn months.

Joe Healy said Minister Creed and the Department of Agriculture have worked hard and made considerable progress on market access issues and he cannot allow the factories to undermine the value of this work with unjustified beef price cuts.

He said the Minister has to insist that there is competition in the trade and market returns are fairly passed back to farmers.

In addition, he must ensure that market access delivers real price gains and stability to farmers.

The IFA President said market demand for beef remains strong. He said cattle prices in our main export market in the UK are the equivalent of €4.42/kg including VAT, as reported by the ADHB and price increases in the UK market, have outpaced the changes to the Sterling exchange rate over the last two months.

He said EU cattle prices are showing signs of improving which would be expected at this time of year as the schools prepare to return.

In addition, he said there is no overhang of stock as was the case from the EU dairy cow cull this time last year and the demand for manufacturing beef is very buoyant.

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Last week the deadweight cattle trade eased further on the back of recovering supplies coupled with the negative impact of currency fluctuations.

In general, Bord Bia says steers were purchased at a base price of between €3.85/kg and €3.90/kg on the Quality Payment System, while the main base price payable for heifers was on average between €3.95/kg and €4.00/kg.

These prices exclude the €0.12 bonus payable on in-spec QA animals. Looking at cull cows, O grade cow prices are generally in the range between €3.30/kg and €3.45/kg.

Cattle supplies at Irish export meat plants for the week ending August 11 reached over 31,000 head which was up around 2pc compared to the equivalent week last year.

Cumulative throughputs are up 5pc or 51,000 head standing at around 1.03 million head. Largest cumulative increases were seen for cull cows which are up 9pc year on year followed by steers and heifers up by 8pc and 5pc respectively.

In contrast supplies of young bulls are back 8pc compared to the same period in 2016. Looking at carcase weights the latest carcase data for the first seven months of the year are back just over 1pc compared to the same period last year.

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