“As the ‘Brexit’ 23 June Referendum date draws closer, we think it’s going to really start exerting an influence on Irish Beef prices. In overall terms it’s accepted that ‘Brexit’ would have a negative impact on our economic prospects but what’s perhaps not fully appreciated is to what extent that negative impact will fall on agriculture – and specifically, beef, where over 50% of our exports go to the UK market. As support for ‘Brexit’ has mounted and been reflected in opinion polls, we’ve seen a steady fall in the value of Sterling against the Euro amounting to around 10%. Right now, we see a lull in factory fit animals – certainly the figures for June will be back on the rising trend established in the first three months and there’s the fact that animals finished younger this spring. But even with that tightening on the numbers, we don’t think that prices will rise because of the uncertainty over the Referendum outcome. The next glut of animals will be finished off the grass in summer and will be ready in Autumn and at that stage – after the Referendum decision – is when matters will become more clear”, said Michael Guinan, Chairperson of ICMSA Livestock Committee.
The ICMSA spokesperson also advanced what he called “some out-loud thinking” on another possible reason for the fall in UK beef prices over the last five to six weeks.
“ICMSA finds it more than a little coincidental that UK beef prices have fallen for the last five weeks more or less ‘out of the blue’. And then suddenly over the last few weeks – and equally ‘out of the blue’ – we learn that the Mercosur talks may be moving quite rapidly towards a conclusion that would allow the South Americans to export 80,000 tonnes of cheap beef to the EU. I don’t think it’s fanciful to advance the idea that the whispers have reached the British buyers that it might be unwise to ‘buy forward’ just now when there’s a good prospect that they’ll be able to access cheap South American beef in the event of Mercosur being delivered. And this highlights a major problem for Irish and the wider EU farming sector: the British Government doesn’t seem to particularly care about its own farmers – much less anyone else’s. If the price of getting access to South American markets for its financial and tech exports is the sacrifice of the European beef sector than that’s a price they’re very willing to pay. Ireland desperately needs to focus on protecting our €2.5 billion beef sector and not allow it to be sacrificed just because the British want access to South American markets and the Commission is so desperate to keep the UK in that they dare not contradict them on anything this side of that June 23 Referendum”, observed Mr. Guinan.
Ends 29 April.
Michael Guinan, 086-8766851
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office