Greater transparency would help alleviate some of the mistrust between farmers and processors in relation to feedlots, according to a new report from leading economist, Jim Power.
The report, which was released yesterday (Tuesday, March 3rd) and commissioned by the IFA to examine the current challenges facing beef production in Ireland, assessed the impact of factory feedlots.
Power noted that beef farmers “clearly believe” that the factory feedlots are used to influence supply and the price that the farmer ultimately gets.
“However, it is important to point out that when the factory feedlots are buying cattle from farmers at marts or directly, they create a demand for cattle and have a positive business impact on those farmers who do not finish cattle.”
90,000 factory-owned feedlots
Power said it “proved impossible” to obtain data on the number of cattle in both factory-owned and factory-controlled feedlots. “The figure of 90,000 relates to factory-owned feedlots, there may be other factory-controlled feedlots in the system.”
“If the figure of 90,000 cattle in factory-owned feedlots is correct, then the overall impact on cattle prices would be limited in a market where over 1.9 million animals are slaughtered.”
“Issues of concern for the Irish beef industry is that the growth of feedlots could risk damaging the grass-fed status of Irish beef.”
Furthermore, Power added, during certain times of the year, the sudden release of a large number of cattle from feedlots can depress price.
“In Ireland, there is nothing illegal about factory feedlots.” Power concluded.