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IFA Urges Beef Companies To Raise Prices To Producers

22 February 2010

IRELAND - The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says beef factories are pursuing a strategy of short-term gain and long term loss, and squeezing winter finishers too hard.

The IFA president, John Bryan, said the meat factories must increase cattle prices in line with returns from our main export markets as the current loss-making prices were squeezing the financial lifeblood out of winter finishers.

He said the facts are all farmers selling cattle are losing money at a base price of €2.90 to €2.94/kg and factories are putting feeders into an impossible situation with their banks.

Mr Bryan said the beef factories must pay farmers a viable price for cattle or accept the inevitable consequences of a return to seasonable production, a reduction in the breeding herd and more live exports.

He said if factories want to retain retail markets with a 52-week supply of beef, they must pay viable cattle prices to winter finishers. Mr Bryan warned the factories their low price short-term gain strategy is driving the beef sector back towards a major seasonality problem and encouraging live exports as the only option to secure profitable prices.

He said with an additional 26,000 cattle processed in the first six weeks of the year, cattle numbers are beginning to tighten. This week, some agents are ringing feeders looking for cattle for killing the next day and enquiring about numbers over the coming weeks. Farmers must put maximum pressure on agents for an immediate price increase.

The IFA President said cattle prices in the UK are equivalent to €3.32/kg and prices across our main EU markets are ranging from €3.30 to €3.80/kg. He said increased numbers of finished cattle are moving to Northern Ireland at prices of €3.13/kg for R grades.

To address farmer concerns over the factories introduction of the Quality Payment System, Mr Bryan said the IFA has requested Teagasc to undertake an independent assessment of the QPS to ensure that it is cost neutral and to quantify the benefits.

Mr Bryan also called on the Department of Agriculture to reassure farmers regarding the accuracy and independence of the mechanical classification machines in the meat factories. He said the Department must reassure farmers and set out the independent audits they undertake on the mechanical classification machines to ensure that they are operating accurately and within the specified EU regulations.

The IFA President said Teagasc must also come forward with a plan setting out how livestock farmers can best utilise the Quality Payment System to maximise price returns and reduce their production costs within their individual livestock enterprises.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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