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Opinion: Even Polish beef prices are ahead of ours

In this news article, ICSA beef chair, Edmund Graham, explains the poor price performance of beef.

The Bord Bia beef price tracker is exposing just how bad prices are for farmers even though farmers have put so much effort into quality assurance.

At the end of October, the composite Irish price (which covers all categories and grades) shows Irish beef price is 50c/kg behind the equivalent price across all our main export markets.

Last year, prices were pretty much in alignment, but this year is a totally different story.

Figures show that over the year to date, Irish beef price is well below both UK and EU markets for R3 steers (average Irish €4.77/kg; average EU €4.93/kg).

Beef prices

If we look at the latest R3 heifer prices, most of the EU markets are returning around €5/kg or better, while we are stuck at €4.56c/kg.

I am calling for an explanation as to why Irish beef prices have fallen so far behind the prices in countries we export to.

It now appears, in my view, that our quality assurance scheme (SBLAS) is a complete failure in delivering any price benefit to farmers.

Farmers will be astonished to hear that even Polish beef prices have powered ahead of our price.

In Poland, R3 heifers are now fetching €4.91/kg; this is an abject failure, and Irish farmers need answers from Bord Bia and from factories.

The evidence strongly suggests quality assurance – with all the bureaucracy that is entailed – is delivering absolutely nothing when the figures are so stark.

Why should farmers continue with this when even Polish beef farmers are getting a better price even though the economy of Poland is on a different level to us?

I would be seeking an immediate meeting with the new Bord Bia CEO to discuss what is going wrong.

Farmers are being completely robbed at the moment, at a time when input costs are at an all-time high.

We have been promised for many years that the efforts with the Quality Assurance Scheme would lead to premium prices but right now, we are down at the bottom of the price table. This is not good enough.

Farmers will need prices north of €7.00/kg to feed cattle this winter.

At the moment, we are not anywhere near €5.00/kg even though almost every important market we are selling to is delivering this to their own farmers.

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