Opinion: Beef farmers pay a high price for impact of dairy expansion
Farmers voice: John Joyce farms at Carrigahorrig, Co Tipperary
As we head into the winter it is very disappointing to see how beef prices have collapsed. We are now well into the third month of low prices after Brexit, with little talk on how to counteract this problem.
Everything is been blamed on the fluctuation of the sterling currency and we know that 50pc of the beef that we export is sold to the UK, but that means that 50pc of beef is traded in areas with non sterling markets.
There is also the additional burden of he huge weekly kills of over 35,000hd, with the added numbers coming mainly from the dairy industry.
During the expansion of the dairy industry over the last two years very little consideration was given to the impact this would have on the beef industry.
With excess of 2m calves due to be born on both dairy and suckler farms next spring, now is the time to take action because the increased numbers are a real worry for beef producers.
Firstly, we need to increase export numbers of dairy-bred calves. The marts could play a huge role in this by setting up agreements with exporters in organising collection centres and sourcing calves at realistic prices. Also we could have a bobby calf system with a high welfare standard to dispose of the Jersey cross calf even if such a move has to be subsidised.
If the Brexit issue doesn't improve more markets will need to be sourced sooner rather than later.
On the sheep side, all is quite with ewes approaching mid pregnancy and the rams just mopping up a few repeats.