The president of ICMSA has said that Irish beef prices need to increase immediately and reflect the stronger global market for beef.
Pat McCormack made the call citing the fact that the gap between the Irish beef price and the price in Northern Ireland now stands at 44c/kg.
He said that this “inexplicable” gap is clear evidence that the market in Ireland is broken and requires rectification.
He believes that if the obvious price rise is not forthcoming immediately, then the regulators need to intervene.
'Demoralising and depressing'
“It couldn’t be more simple or indeed blatant: if a farmer on the border in Armagh sells an R3 steer to a Northern Ireland processor this morning (Thursday, December 5th), he or she gets 3.86c/kg while their neighbour, a few fields away in Monaghan, sells a similar animal to a southern processor gets 3.42c/kg which translates to €154 less for a 350kg animal."
"Why is there such a difference? The only possible explanation is that someone further along the supply chain, be it the processor or retailer, is creaming this profit at the expense of the farmer."
"This simply has to stop because it is the root of the massive frustration amongst Irish beef farmers at this time and the fact that no official body can stop this abuse is incredibly demoralising and depressing," he added.
Price gap continues to widen
Mr McCormack said that the gap between the Irish and Northern Irish price stood at 19c/kg on the July 29th, 2019 and today that gap has widened to 44c/kg.
He also noted that the Northern Irish price has increased by over 21c/kg since July while the Irish price has fallen by 3c/kg.
“Some serious questions have to be directed at the sustainability boats and claims made by many retailers who seem to conveniently forget – or choose to overlook – the fact that sustainability has three pillars; economic, social and environmental.
He stated that there is a total failure in relation to the economic sustainability of farmers who provide a high-quality product to over 50m consumers and have been "systematically wiped-out by margin-grabbing".
Confidence 'at an all-time low'
Mr McCormack noted that confidence in the beef sector is at an all-time low and many beef farmers are seriously considering alternative land use options.
He said that confidence needs to be restored and that had to entail meats plants responding positively to an "improved market that anyone could see and which had been accepted by Meat Industry Ireland at the Beef Taskforce earlier this week".
“Either farmers begin to get a fair price for the beef they produce or we see the whole Irish beef sector continue to decline and enter what could be a terminal phase," he concluded.