Robin Talbot: Plaudits for China deal are fine, but let's see price rise before we party
The announcement of the imminent opening of the Chinese market is to be welcomed.
My sources in the beef industry inform me that one of the things the Chinese delegations liked about Irish beef is the fact that it is mostly produced on family farms. This is an attribute of our production system that needs to be safeguarded.
But I couldn't help having a feeling of déjà vu. We heard all the same kinds of things being said about the opening of the US a few years ago. It's obvious now that the optimism for that market was seriously overstated. I hope we are not saying the same about China in a few years' time.
But, as livestock farmers, I think we have to stand up for ourselves.
Most of the news reports were talking about how it is a market that will add value to the carcase. If this new market doesn't deliver a price increase at the farm gate, we will need to ask questions and get answers from those who are taking the plaudits now.
All our stock are now out, except for the few beef heifers that will be finished in the shed.
The reason they are now all out is that there is nothing left for them inside. The underfoot conditions outside are horrendous but at least the grass is starting to come to them.
This is, without doubt, the longest winter that I can remember. We'd usually have all our stock out to grass by April 1, whereas this year they were all inside on that date.