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Factories told to ‘take the handbrake off beef prices’

“Take your boot off the beef finisher, take the handbrake off the beef price and let prices rise in line with rising market returns.”

That was the message Tim Cullinan, IFA president, delivered to beef factory representatives at Thursday’s Beef Taskforce meeting.

The IFA leader said cattle prices in the UK have increased by 40c/kg since April 25th, while Irish prices have only risen by 22c/kg.

“The beef market in the UK, where we export most of our beef, is rising rapidly week-on-week while our prices are struggling to move on, as the factories keep the handbrake on the trade.”

Losses of €200/head

He said beef finishers have incurred massive beef price losses this spring, in the order of €200/ head.

“It’s essential the Minister for Agriculture immediately opens applications and makes speedy payments under the new €50m Beef Finishers’ Scheme.”

 At the Taskforce meeting, Tim Cullinan questioned consultants, Grant Thornton, who were retained by the Minister to investigate the price composition of the total value of the animal, including the fifth-quarter, along the supply chain.

He said the success or failure of this investigation will depend on the data from the factories and retailers.

“The Minister for Agriculture needs to be strong and bluntly tell the beef factories and the retailers they must co-operate fully and provide all the required price and margin information for this important investigation.”

Bord Bia grass-fed and PGI proposals

The farm leader also raised issues on the Bord Bia grass-fed and PGI proposals around the “lack of proper consultation” with IFA and farmers and the need for more engagement.

The farm lobby group has raised the exclusion of young bulls from eligibility for grass-fed and the confusion over excluding the first nine months of age as key issues.

Cullinan said farmers want to know how the market will benefit from grass-fed and PGI be passed back to farmers and if there will be a price premium.

“Farmers want to know the details around the ownership of the grass-fed and PGI initiatives. Who will own and who control the brands?” he concluded.

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