With many farmers facing a serious crisis in terms of feeding their animals in the upcoming winter, there is a responsibility on meat processors to assist their suppliers through this extremely difficult period and in this regard, meats plants should either amend the specification for cows or alternatively amend the penalties so that their suppliers can get to next April and continue to supply cattle to their meat plant going forward according to Mr. Des Morrison, Chairperson of ICMSA’s Livestock Committee.
One has only to examine the prices paid as published by the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine on a weekly basis to understand the serious financial hit that farmers are taking with prices as low as 112c/kg paid for some cows according to the Department data. While acknowledging that some cows may not be finished to market specification given the drought conditions, no one, Mr. Morrison says, believes that cows should be priced at such levels and ICMSA firmly believes that meat plants need to step up and pay a price that reflects markets returns that includes the fifth quarter return that has improved substantially in recent years. If the fifth quarter price is under pressure as claimed by the meat plants, then they should produce the market data to back up this assertion. It is simply not good enough to make claims that are not backed up with facts.
The reality for some farmers, Mr. Morrison said, is that to provide meat plants with well conditioned cattle for the rest of this year and into 2019, a level of destocking has to take place now and the penalties being imposed on some of these cows are completely beyond reason in particular given the current circumstances. Loyal suppliers over many years are getting hammered on prices and in particular on the specification being imposed by meat plants that are resulting in prices significantly below the base prices quoted.
These penalties are not acceptable, have not been justified in any way and Mr. Morrison concluded by calling on meat plants to show a level of commitment to loyal suppliers by eliminating such penalties in the current circumstances and allow farmers to destock where required. Farmers are under enormous pressure and our meat plants should immediately step up to the mark in supporting them which they have completely failed to do to date.
ENDS 2 August 2018.
Des Morrison (087) 2263331.
Chairperson ICMSA Livestock Committee
ICMSA Office: (061) 314677.