Live exports slump threatens prices
FARMERS have called for more action to boost live exports of cattle, amid growing concerns the rapidly expanding national herd could drive down beef prices.
The ICMSA has called on Bord Bia and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to focus on tackling the fall-off in live export trade as new figures show the national herd has increased by 100,000.
Michael Guinan, the ICMSA's livestock committee chairman, said concerns are growing over the long-term impact on beef prices with extra cattle destined for the factories in the coming years.
The rapid expansion in the dairy herd post-quota has been reflected in an increase of 91,300 calves from dairy herds registered for the first five months, while registration of births in beef herds show an increase of 12,200.
However, live exports of cattle over the same period are down by 25,500 head, with over 114,700 exported so far this year and slaughterings at the beef factories are back by 30,000 head.
The combination has added a net increase of almost 160,000 head in the national herd up to May 31.
Mr Guinan called for more efforts to boost live exports, with growing concerns among livestock farmers that stronger supplies of finished beef animals will drive down prices at the factory gates.
"Farmers are perfectly aware of the fact that cattle supplies dictate the price they receive from the meat plants and the live export trade is the only way to ensure cattle supplies are in the farmers' favour - that's why we need to export more cattle live, he said.