Irish beef sector future in doubt

IRELAND - The Chairman of the ICMSA’s Beef and Cattle Committee, Martin McMahon, says that given current beef prices and the substantially higher input costs this year, the plight of winter finishers this year will seriously damage the future of the beef sector unless the situation is addressed immediately.
calendar icon 15 March 2007
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According to Mr McMahon, there are two main and inter-connected issues causing concern at the present time, these are the price of cattle and the problems of slaughtering heavier cattle. Mr McMahon said that farmers have fed cattle expensive feed to get them ready for slaughter this spring when, without any notice or indication from the meat plants, cattle over a certain weight are being discounted and are becoming hard to sell. ICMSA considered this to be totally unacceptable and almost guaranteed to force committed people out of the business. Farmers cannot operate in a business environment where new issues and policies are introduced overnight and Mr McMahon said that meat plants must discontinue this policy of discounting against heavier cattle for 2007. If heavier cattle are a problem, then the industry as a whole should address it going forward, but farmers with such cattle at present should not suffer.

The beef chairman said the matter of price was perfectly straightforward: winter finishers were unable to make a profit at current prices. Irish beef prices have not increased this year with the price of certain cattle having fallen and continuing to fall. Input costs, most particularly feed costs, have increased substantially this year and Irish beef farmers were particularly irritated by the fact that UK beef prices are up 10 per cent on this time last year, while Irish prices were static or falling. Who could explain such a discrepancy, asked Mr McMahon.

Source: Laois Nationalist
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