The ICSA has said there is no incentive to produce organic beef as prices have fallen behind conventional cattle.
That is the claim its organics chair, Fergal Byrne, made following an analysis of beef prices this week.
He said that “this week we have seen the prices paid for conventional cattle exceeding those paid for organic cattle”.
“This is completely unsustainable when you consider the higher costs involved in rearing organic cattle,” he said.
He argued that unless processors up their prices for organic cattle, there is “little” hope of enticing livestock farmers to switch to organics.
“It should come as no surprise to anyone that it is more expensive to produce organic beef – due to lower volume of farm output.”
“Farmers need to have confidence when they go to sell their produce that this will be taken into consideration.”
“There is absolutely no incentive for farmers to go to the extra expense of producing organically when those producing conventionally are getting paid more.”
He said we need to question why this is happening and if there is any prospect of rectifying the imbalance.
He said it is “clear” that the powers that be must put more resources into securing new markets and marketing this produce.
€1/kg premium for organic cattle
He acknowledged that while the DAFM has pumped additional money into the Organics Scheme, serious questions remain around whether there is a “solid” strategy to build Irish organic exports and deliver premium prices at meat factory and Bord Bia level.
“Government policy is to encourage more farmers to switch to organics. However, we must be able to demonstrate that it is a financially viable option.”
“However, as things stand, that is very difficult to do. The job will get even harder if we cannot re-establish a premium of at least €1.00/kg extra for organic cattle,” he concluded.
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