Speaking following a meeting with Meat Industry Ireland, the President of ICMSA said that his association had very clearly spelt out to the meat plants the chronic situation facing beef producers due to the severe price reductions since this time last year. Pat McCormack called on the meat plants to ensure that prices return to a realistic level immediately.
“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. To say this is not sustainable is to merely state the obvious”, said Mr. McCormack.
“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. 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. “It is absolutely essential that our Government and the EU immediately sets out their plans on how they intend to protect the 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. 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. As a preamble to that announcement, the EU should unconditionally rule out any Mercusor deal for the foreseeable future as that proposal – absurd in ordinary circumstances – would amount to lunacy in the present situation”, said the ICMSA President.
Concluding, Mr. McCormack differentiated between the short and long-term challenges facing the beef sector and called on the meat processors to immediately address the price issue while the more long- term questions demanded the attention of our politicians, who needed to spell out their plans “immediately”.
Ends 31 January 2019
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office