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‘Processors seem to forget that price cuts were the catalyst for 2019 beef protests’

In this letter to the editor, the IBLA expresses concerns over beef factories’ price cuts. 

The Irish Beef & Lamb Association – IBLA – is gravely concerned at meat processors reducing the price they pay for beef to primary producers in a year when input costs have soared.

Processors seem to forget that similar type price cuts at this time of year were the catalyst for the beef protests of 2019.

IBLA has read the recent processor spin suggesting that Irish prices are greater than they actually are.

Recent processor-biased articles do not reflect reality. The average for the year so far shows the price paid for an R3 Heifer is 4.70 €/Kg, which is approximately 7% lower than the Northern Ireland & UK year-to-date prices of 4.99 €/Kg and 5.05 €/Kg, respectively.

Similar price differences exist for the R3 Steer average price paid for the year so far.

Beef Taskforce

IBLA has also noted that Bord Bia has started to report a composite price on its website, excluding the British market in which a considerable percentage of Irish beef continues to be.

Perhaps, they will let farmers know why what was agreed at the Beef Taskforce has now been changed.

In the absence of a Beef Taskforce forum, it would appear that Bord Bia can now make these changes without consulting those that asked for the report in the first instance.

This composite report was to establish facts that you could differentiate from the processor’s spin on market prices.

2022 so far has been a very challenging year for farmers from an input cost perspective.

The meat industry should, therefore, perhaps reflect on the costs that farmers have incurred and be mindful that the world has changed, and so have farmers.

Protests and brinkmanship

Protests in 2019 taught us that the meat industry requires our cattle and sheep to underpin their business.

Processors should therefore remember that there is no obligation on farmers to produce beef or lamb. Moreover, farmers will not do so at a loss.

Brinkmanship is best left outside of a farming supply chain.

IBLA considers that it would be far better for the processing industry to give confidence and support to the beef and lamb farmers in Ireland, in the same manner as the dairy industry has demonstrated all year to their milk suppliers, rather than risk disruption to supply.

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