Production cuts needed to get beef prices back on track - ICSA
Significant cuts in domestic beef production to get supply and demand back into equilibrium is the only solution to the current cattle-price crisis, the ICSA has claimed.
The drystock farmers' body maintained that live shipping had to be ramped up to take out tens of thousands of calves that cannot be profitably finished.
ICSA also insisted that all calves from the dairy herd with any Jersey influence whatsoever must be declared part-Jersey at the point of sale so that farmers are "not duped into buying" the stock.
In a broadside on current farm policy, ICSA maintained that Food Wise 2025 had "failed disastrously" to take account of the unintended consequences of dairy expansion on the beef sector, and was undermining Ireland's position as a major beef exporter.
"The reality is staring us in the face, which is that we do not have sufficient outlets for a weekly kill of 40,000 head. It is futile demanding a price equating to cost of production plus a margin when our weekly kill is just too high," said ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham.
"In December 2017, I got €4.10/kg flat for bulls under 24 months. Now the price is €3.80/kg for U grades and €3.70/kg for Rs, or an average of €3.75/kg. On a 400kg carcass, that equates to €140/hd," he pointed out.
"In addition, I estimate increased feed costs due to drought at €50/hd. Thus the bull beef system is €190/hd worse off. Even in good times, this is a low margin system and a downturn of €190/animal cannot be carried for long."
The ICSA representative asked if the cost of dairy expansion was "too high for the beef sector", with 400,000 additional calves born, as well as extra cull cows.