And beef prices could take a serious hit once Brexit export controls take effect in July
THE debate about the future of dairy expansion must begin with a recognition of the crisis facing Irish beef farming, leading economist Professor John Fitzgerald has warned.
And the outgoing chairman of the Climate Change Advisory Council predicts that beef prices will be hit hard this summer as “more serious” Brexit controls come into force.
In an interview with the Farming Independent, Professor Fitzgerald says that if dairy output is to continue at current levels, a “cut to the national herd is inevitable, it’s necessary. But the cut should occur on the beef side first.
“Farmers make nothing on average out of beef. And after July, because of Brexit, they are probably going to lose more money. They would be better off staying in bed in the morning than doing beef.”
He says Brexit measures mean that beef prices will be under more pressure from July 1.
“From July 1 they (the British) are introducing their controls and there could be very significant disruption, slowing down and additional
significant costs involved in moving and exporting food.
“It’s not that there will be tariffs, but a conforming with the regulations. People don’t realise the problems have all been on the imports so far, but from July that’s when the export problem will become serious.
“It will become more expensive to get Irish goods onto a supermarket shelf in Great Britain.”
Professor Fitzgerald adds that in the long-term moving away from livestock towards forestry and biomass production could be a “win-win” opportunity for beef farmers.
However, he describes the DAFM’s current forestry licensing regime, as “a complete and utter disaster.”
“They are hiring more ecologists to run the appeals processes and loads of people to check the licenses and look at the appeals, but if you get rid of licenses you don’t need anybody.
“It’s completely mad. You don’t need any of these people. Give one or two or them to the EPA so that they can enforce the regulations and get on with it. This is bureaucracy run wild.”