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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Beef trade: ‘There is no hiding place for factories’

Beef prices must push on to reflect demand in the UK and EU markets, according to IFA national livestock chairman, Brendan Golden,

He said prices in Ireland’s key markets have strengthened over the past week, rising 3c/kg in the UK.

Golden outlined that demand from supermarkets is “strong” and “cattle numbers are tight”.

The Export Benchmark Price, which IFA has consistently highlighted as the reality of the market place, show prices in Ireland’s key markets reflecting the demand for beef by increasing each week.

Beef prices 

He said factories and their agents are having to work “hard” to secure supplies and farmers should not accept lower quotes offered.

Steers are making €3.80/kg and heifers €3.85/kg, with higher deals for larger and specialist lots, according to the IFA.

Young Bulls are selling to €3.90/kg. On the other hand, cows are meeting “strong” demand, with “very few” selling below €3.00/kg, according to Golden.

He revealed that better quality cows are moving at €3.50/kg and over, in some cases.

“There is no hiding place for factories. Cattle finishers are experiencing continual increases in production costs and the undermining of the market by factories is not acceptable.”

“The gradual re-opening of the foodservice sector will drive demand in addition to the seasonal increase for beef for the Easter holiday which is approaching,” he added.

He said farmers understand the issues with Brexit and COVID-19. However, this is no excuse for factories “failing” to reflect the current market conditions in beef prices.

Golden highlighted that the breakeven price for finishers according to Teagasc is €4.50/kg, is a “long way off” current prices.

He believes market conditions justify a closing of this gap.

Read a report on beef prices in Northern Ireland from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

Electronic payments to farmers

In other news, the IFA has called on Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to provide electronic payment facilities for farmers selling livestock.

Golden and Dennehy, met MII recently to discuss the provision of electronic payments.

“Farmers who are selling livestock should have the option of EFT if they want to avail of it. It is a standard service that exists across society and we want processors to extend it to farmers.”

The farm group warned that the exit of Ulster Bank and branch closures announced by Bank of Ireland will lead to a further contraction of banking services in rural Ireland.

“Farmers simply won’t have the facility to lodge cheques because they won’t have a bank in their community. The absence of an EFT arrangement will put farmers who don’t have easy access to lodgement facilities at a disadvantage.”

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