Minister Charlie McConalogue and the government must now redouble their efforts to secure an immediate return of Irish beef to the Chinese market.
That is the view of IFA president, Tim Cullinan, who spoke following an announcement that Ireland has fulfilled the criteria to attain OIE negligible risk status for BSE.
“It is a welcome recognition of the work and production standards on Irish farms,” he said.
However, IFA livestock chairman, Brendan Golden, said the critical issue for farmers is to see a meaningful return from the marketplace in beef prices.
“This is a positive development for beef sales. There is no justification for our beef prices to continue lagging behind the Prime Export Tracker Price by 13c/kg,” he said.
Golden said market conditions are “favourable and strengthening”. He stressed factories must move baseline prices for cattle to a minimum of €4.00/kg to reflect the reality of the marketplace.
“We are on track to regain our negligible risk status for BSE, the numbers of cattle are extremely tight and supermarket demand is strong,” he said.
He said factories must return meaningful price increases to align Ireland’s beef price with market returns. “The starting point is a base of €4.00/kg based on the current Prime Export Tracker price,” Golden concluded.
Why beef prices should rise
Meanwhile, the ICSA has echoed the words of Brendan Golden, calling for base prices to move above €4.00/kg.
Its beef chair, Edmund Graham, said it is inexplicable how beef price is not well above €4.00/kg at this stage.
“The fact that Irish beef price has been essentially static for months at a time when prices elsewhere are hardening, along with favourable strengthening of sterling, suggests there is an orchestrated effort being made by factories here to keep a lid on prices.”
He referred to the latest figures show an increase in spend on retail sales of beef in Britain of some 15.8% compared to the same period twelve months ago.
Meanwhile, the Bord Bia beef price tracker shows Ireland’s price has slipped to 13c/kg behind “where it should be based on the prime export benchmark tracker.”
“We have evaded the risk of a no-deal Brexit. Last but not least, sterling is stronger now which improves the price that UK customers can afford to pay for Irish beef.”
He said the last piece of the jigsaw will be the reopening of the Chinese market.