The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) recently held a meeting with representatives from Meat Industry Ireland (MII) over falling cattle prices.
Speaking after the meeting, ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, said they had clearly spelt out the chronic situation facing beef producers to meat plants. This situation, he noted, is caused by the severe price reductions since the same time in 2018. He called on meat plants for prices to return to “realistic” levels.
“The reality for beef farmers today is that the price for steers is €100 per head lower than in early 2018, for heifers it is €80 per head lower since then, and for cows a massive €185 per head lower than this time last year and remember that those falls follow the incredibly expensive production year that was 2018.” he said.
“To say this is not sustainable is to merely state the obvious”, Mr McCormack continued.
McCormack highlighted that there is currently a difference of approximately 30cents per kg between Irish and UK prices, meaning there is a scope for improvement.
“The differential with the UK is currently around 30c/kg so there is clearly scope for the kind of price improvements that must be forthcoming if any confidence is to be restored amongst beef farmers.” he said.
“We’d also highlight the need to facilitate farmers to relation to the slaughter of cattle coming up to arbitrary age limits imposed by meat processors and marketplaces that serve no purpose other than to impose further unnecessary restrictions on farmers. Given the pressures that the factories know farmers are under at present, processors really need to show a level of flexibility on this matter”, he continued.
The ICMSA President said that “clearly” the Brexit situation was hanging over all sectors of Agri-food at present but none more so than beef. He stated that it is essential that the Irish government outline plans on how they intend to deal with and protect primary beef producers.
“Due to the lack of confidence in the sector, farmers selling calves, weanlings, stores and finished cattle are already taking a severe hit in their income while politicians in the UK and EU play games with their livelihoods.” he said.
“Farmers need to know now what supports the EU and our Government intends to implement in order to restore some level of confidence in the beef sector.”
Concluding, Mr. McCormack called for the EU to “unconditionally” rule of any Mercosur deal.
“As a preamble to that announcement, the EU should unconditionally rule out any Mercosur deal for the foreseeable future as that proposal – absurd in ordinary circumstances – would amount to lunacy in the present situation”, said the ICMSA President.