In this article, ICSA beef chair, Edmund Graham, voices concerns over current beef price cuts.
There will be no need for any scheme to reduce cattle numbers if the meat industry continues its onslaught on beef prices.
The price cuts we have seen since April are too much to bear for most beef farmers. It is an exit scheme in everything but name because farmers are being left with no choice but to get out anyway.
Unless the meat industry reverses these cuts, there will be zero incentive for farmers to feed cattle this winter.
Last winter, Teagasc said prices would have to hit €6/kg in the spring to cover our inflated production costs.
We know now that prices did not even come close to that with steers peaking at around €5.25/kg in April and falling since. No beef farmer can afford a carbon copy of that come next spring.
The meat industry has serious questions to answer around its treatment of its suppliers.
Prices down over €200/hd
Producers are down over €200/hd since the spring and we have been offered no legitimate explanation for that.
All we can see is the difference between prices here and the Bord Bia export benchmark getting bigger and bigger, and we can see no sign of the meat industry having any interest in closing that gap and giving local suppliers half a chance.
If the meat industry is serious about expecting cattle to be fed over the winter months, then they need to start with reversing the price cuts we have seen since April and committing to future prices that can justify expensive winter feeding.
Unless beef prices start to improve, ICSA is advising farmers to seriously consider leaving sheds empty this winter.
There will be plenty of customers for silage next spring and selling silage will almost certainly turn out to be more profitable than risking feeding cattle with expensive meal.
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