Viewpoint: Rocky road ahead for beef sector
The forecast for the months' ahead is for a turbulent ride, when it comes to beef prices at least.
As we waited for the annual review and outlook of Teagasc to get underway in Dublin's RDS this week the discussion turned to the viability of the beef sector.
Back in the 1980s there was an old ACOT video doing the rounds that aptly labelled finishers - 'The Gambler'.
There were a few murmurs that maybe it should be resurrected for new students considered entering the finishing fray as we fast-forward 30 years and little had changed.
It was a buoyant 2015 for cattle with finishing enterprises up 33pc and suckler gross margins up 37pc on average, yet we shouldn't forget that it was on the back of a dismal 2014.
This year saw weanlings and store cattle surge as heated sales were reported ringside, while finished cattle were up 9pc. Yet for next year Teagasc economists are forcasting a return to 'normality', as Kevin Hanrahan reports a not-so-positive outlook.
The warnings come on the back of an expected growth in supplies of cattle in the EU and Ireland, with the expansion of the EU dairy herd.
A further depreciation of the euro may save Irish exports and prices but pinning hopes on that 'gamble' offers little comfort to those looking at where prices will be at next year.