IRELAND - ICSA president Patrick Kent has said figures from the Teagasc research institute showing a likely drop of more than 10 per cent in beef prices in 2017 illustrates how much current agriculture policies and the national strategy for expansion are out of touch with reality on the ground.
"Food Wise 2025 is a call to beef farmers to expand production, which can now only be described as ludicrous advice. It simply does not make sense anymore and new policies need to be explored,” Mr Kent was speaking following the release of Teagasc’s Outlook for Agriculture Incomes in 2017.
"While report is shocking in terms of outlook for the beef sector in 2017, it is not surprising. It has been blatantly clear that this was coming down the line for beef farmers. Figures indicate that there are too many cattle in the country.
"With an additional 200,000 head of cattle for slaughter forecast for 2017, it is evident that new policies will have to be considered to address this new reality. Advising expansion in a loss making enterprise seems insane when it will only result in greater losses. When cattle numbers are up, prices have always gone down. The idea of cutting production in the beef sector now needs to be given serious consideration."
Continuing Mr Kent said: "Adding insult to injury, the Teagasc figures also indicate that dairy incomes are set to hit record levels 2017. We have seen continued rescue packages for that sector while other sectors are addressed merely as an afterthought. The figures must be seen as a wake-up call given that none of what Teagasc has predicted for beef farmers should come as a surprise to anyone."
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