Farmers Battle Factories over Beef Prices

IRELAND - Irish farmers are fighting back hard against the factories on cattle prices, according to teh Irish Farmers' Association.
calendar icon 1 August 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said: “Farmers are not prepared to take the lower quoted prices and the factories are finding it extremely difficult to get cattle. Factories are having to pay 5-10c/kg over quoted prices to get numbers.”

The IFA livestock leader said the factories had used the bad weather situation over recent weeks to attack cattle prices in a most unjustified way. He said “It is going to take a good bit more than quoted prices to buy cattle next week.”

Mr Burns added: “Some plants had offered €3.95/kg last week and were told where to go. These same plants were back this week looking for the cattle, offering €4.05/kg and had to get the stock immediately. They were also paying €4.15/kg for heifers.”

Mr Burns said the kill remains very low.

Up to July 21st, the steer kill is back over 26 per cent or 73,000 head.

The heifer kill is down 17 per cent or 40,000 head and the cow kill is back over 6 per cent or 12,000 head. On a weekly basis the kill is running at 23/25,000 head, the lowest in several years.

He said these figures prove the massive misinformation being propagated by the factories that they were full of stock. He pointed out that the prime cattle kill in the UK, our main export market, is also down 8.4 per cent or over 90,000 head.

The IFA livestock leader said cattle prices in our main export market in the UK remain very strong at the equivalent of €4.69/kg as reported by An Bord Bia.

In addition, he said the exchange rate with sterling had improved steadily over the last 3 weeks and was now at just over 78p/€, compared to 89p/€ this time last year. Henry Burns said the factories had now opened up a massive price gap between Irish cattle prices and UK cattle prices, despite the fact that we are exporting over half our beef into the UK market.

Mr Burns said Minister Coveney needs to react to the negative message from the meat factories on cattle prices and secure the recommencement of the live export trade to Libya, Egypt and the Lebanon without further delay. He said against the price cutting tactics of the factories, Minister Coveney must re-open the live trade for price competition and alternative market outlets.

The IFA Livestock leader said the Minister has made good progress in advancing vetinerary certificates and the Department were currently pursuing improvements. He said at this stage Minister Coveney needs to initiate high level Government to Government communication to deliver a strong live cattle exports business to North Africa and the Middle East.

He said IFA has spoken to a number of interested exporters, all anxious to do business and it is clear high level Government action is required.

Mr Burns said CSO data to May 2012 shows how input costs have increased substantially on farms.

He said since 2010 energy costs have increased by 25 per cent, fertiliser prices have increased by 27 per cent and feedstuffs are gone up by 18 per cent. He said in recent weeks further price increases have taken place, particularly the cost of feed, with beef rations now at €300/t.

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