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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 farmers will need €5/kg just to stay viable’

According to the ICSA, beef farmers will need €5.00/kg to cover soaring production costs to remain viable in 2021.

Its beef chair, Edmund Graham, has said that 2021 has seen peak rip-off of beef farmers by factories.

“Although prices are now starting to head up, we started 2021 with a steer price differential of 35c/kg compared to the UK. This rose to almost 75c/kg differential in the first week of April.”

“Factory arguments about access to the UK retail trade cannot explain this extraordinary chasm. Given strong market demand, the reality is that farmers have more to be unhappy about in 2021 than in summer 2019 when the beef factory protests took hold.”

“It is also clear that retailers are being let get away with outrageous profiteering when we know that retail beef sales in Ireland, UK and continental Europe are all well up on eighteen months ago.”

He said current low beef prices, which are well below the published break-even price for winter finishing of €4.50/kg, must also be set in the context of escalating input prices.

Commodities and inputs

Global demand for all sorts of commodities and inputs is leading to a spiralling of costs for farmers.

Fertiliser prices have rocketed in recent months, with urea now fetching 50% more on global markets than a year ago. Furthermore, even more spectacular increases are observed in phosphates and potash to a lesser extent.

“Increased oil is going to impact silage making costs, and the cost of repairs or improvements is rapidly getting beyond most beef farmers as steel costs go through the roof.”

“Ration costs are also heading in the wrong direction, and if these trends continue, beef farmers will need €5/kg just to stay viable. The re-opening of the UK foodservice and catering sector means that there is no more room for excuses.”

“This is why I am insisting that beef factory bosses should give an explanation why our prices are so far behind the UK prices at a time of rocketing demand,” Graham concluded.

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