IRELAND – Continuing low beef prices have caused ‘anger and frustration’ among Irish cattle producers as UK and EU prices stabilise, the government has heard this week.
Farm groups have repeatedly warned of ‘price attacks’ by meat processors forcing farmers out of the industry.
These points have been made by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), which said that meanwhile, European beef values have been ‘stable and recovering’.
IFA President Eddie Downey called on the government to deliver on commitments made to safeguard a fragile industry.
Mr Downey said: “Farmers feel betrayed by the unacceptable behaviour of retailers and processors this year.”
He added: “The Minister must ensure that there is strong competition and transparency in the beef sector. Cattle prices must fairly reflect market returns. We need a strong live export trade to keep a balance in supplies and support viable prices.”
ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher is concerned of beef farms in marginal areas.
He warned that, due to the restrictive nature of their holdings, only forestry and land abandonment are left.
“Farmers on better land have other options including dairying and tillage, but I'm very concerned for suckler farmers in the most disadvantaged areas,” said Mr Kelleher.
On Monday, the ICSA viewed opinions on mixed-origin beef, accusing supermarket chain Tesco of treating its consumers ‘like children’.
Beef chairman Edmond Phelan claimed there was ‘little or no difference’ between Republic and Northern Irish beef production methods and standards.
He continued that ‘fabricated excuses’ from retailers are unacceptable and said they must end.
"The hyping up of outdated distinctions like the 30-month requirement is another example of the artificial obstacles used by retailers to manipulate the market," adde Mr Phelan.
"Are we really to believe that the consumer is happy to eat beef from a 29-month old animal but not from one that is 31 months old?”