“It is clear that further subsidies for sucklers are a waste of time, if we do not effectively address the massive profiteering on these animals, in particular,” stressed ICSA beef chair, Edmund Graham.
“When you look at how much meat can be got from a suckler-type heifer, it’s beggars’ belief that the suckler farming sector is on its knees.”
He made the comments following a recent beef trial which was conducted by the farm organisation.
The trial involved an R+ grade suckler animal, under 30 months, which was priced at €1,228 (VAT exclusive); its meat was priced at €2,741, a mark-up before costs of €1,512.
The ICSA believes that processors and retailers are making “substantial” mark-ups on heifers destined for the supermarket shelf.
The farm organisation said the trial, which involved a suckler-bred and dairy-bred heifer, shows that there is “a lot of extra value in the suckler animal that current beef grid price does not reward”.
Yield €523 more value in retail sales
From a starting point of two heifers of almost identical live-weights (590kg v 600kg), the suckler animal outperformed all along the food chain to yield €523 more value in retail sales, the beef chair added.
“Allowing for her higher kill-out and better grade, the farmer makes €184 (VAT excl) more on the suckler animal. But is this enough of a fair reflection?” he questioned.
The farm organisation stated that while the trial has the obvious limitation of being based on just two animals, the outcomes point the way for further research and investigation.