“All sectors of the beef industry are in serious trouble – suckler farmers, calf-to-beef producers, store producers or finishers” – Jackie Cahill said as he spoke in the Dáil last week.
“The numbers going through our processing plants at the moment are just too high to give a viable return to beef farmers.”
He reiterated the party’s call for research into sexed semen and said that this must be addressed if “cross-breeding is to continue into the future.”
Bull Beef Production
“We now see processors talking about dairy calf-to-beef systems and how profitable they can be.”
“A number of years ago, the same processors pressed people to go into Friesian bull production and 18-20-months later, they left them high and dry.”
He said that way in which bull finishers were treated by processors this spring was “absolutely despicable”.
“Age limit and weight restrictions were used to put the final nails in the financial coffin of bull finishers.”
Making reference to comments suggesting that dairy calf-to-beef is more profitable than suckling, Cahill said: “No one is making any money – it’s only who is losing the lease.”
He said that Minister Creed should have ensured that the Beef Forum addressed issues surrounding weight restrictions and fewer animals qualifying for Quality-Assurance bonuses.
He stressed that post-Brexit, the EU will be 116% self-sufficient in beef. Continuing he said: “The Commission - which you are part of Minster – has made concessions on Mercosur that will allow up to 100,000-tonnes of beef into an over-supplied EU market.”
Live Exports and Factories
Discussing live exports and market opens for Irish beef, he said: “The reality is very few cattle over 12 months of age are being exported live and wheelbarrows of beef are being exported to markets out of the EU.”
“The markets are there for our calves and we haven’t put the infrastructure in place to get the calves out of this country in the numbers that were needed.”
Making reference to the Competition Authority and feedlots, Cahill said: “In 2018, 295,000 cattle came out of factory feedlots.”
“Factories are operating a monopoly on price and they are manipulating the price on the amount of cattle that are coming out of feedlots.” He added.
“Farmers are making the decision to close the gates for the last time.”
“Farmers are turning their back on our industry – we have to reverse that trend and we need to reverse it now.” He concluded.