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IFA: Positive Price Prospects at Beef Farmers' Meet

26 January 2009

IRELAND - Addressing a crowd of over 300 farmers at the recent Irish Farmers Association (IFA) cattle finishers meeting in Portlaoise. IFA President Padraig Walshe said cattle farmers needed an immediate price increase to €3.50/kg to stop haemorrhaging losses.

Padraig Walshe said a price increase to €3.50/kg is now fully justifiable based on the strong beef market price returns from our main export market in the UK, and on market returns across Europe.

The IFA President said winter finishers are not going to feed cattle at a loss for the factories. He said, “At current prices, feeders are losing €100 to €150 per head, depending on costs, and this level of losses cannot continue.”

Padraig Walshe accused the factories of driving down cattle prices with their negative propaganda machine since last December. He said, “The factories and their agents have used every trick in the book to undermine confidence and hit the price. They have used sterling, the dioxin scare, the recession, job losses and everything else they could find.”

Rejecting the factory propaganda, Padraig Walshe said the facts are cattle supplies are tight both here and across Europe. The UK cattle price is at €3.50/kg and rising, demand for beef is strong, Brazilian imports are severely restricted and both beef and live cattle exports have resumed to Italy.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Michael Doran said cattle prices in our main export market in the UK are up 33 per cent on this time last year, at the equivalent of €3.50/kg. The change in sterling over the same period is 20 per cent. The facts are the cattle price increase in our main export market has far outweighed the change in currency.

Michael Doran pointed out that for the first four months of last year, Irish cattle prices were on a par and sometime exceeded UK cattle prices.

Across Continental Europe, he said cattle prices range from €3.50/kg to €3.90/kg in our main markets and EU production is expected to decrease further in 2009.

Alistair Mackintosh, Chairman of the NFU Livestock Board in the UK delivered a very positive and strong message to the meeting that the significant cattle price increase in the UK market will continue. He said, “Cattle prices are £2.90 to £3.00/kg, demand for beef is strong, cattle supplies are tight and there is opportunity for prices to rise further”.

The NFU livestock leader told the meeting UK farmers have decided that they are not going to hand over their Single Payment to processors and supermarkets. He said factories and retailers know that farmers have to get a sustainable price to maintain the sector longer term.

Gerard Brickley from An Bord Bia said world beef production and exports are falling, with exports down in the 5 main global players by 7 per cent in 2008 and forecast to fall by 2 – 3 per cent in 2009.

In Europe he said production will fall by 45,000t in 2009. Gerard Brickley said production in Ireland has been falling since 1999 and supplies will remain tight in 2009.

The Bord Bia man said the problems had been sorted and the Italian market was now largely back to normal levels.

Padraig Walshe delivered a strong message to factories - stop the negative propaganda, stop talking down the trade and stop trying to undermine confidence among farmers. He asked farmers to arm themselves with the real facts on cattle prices and the markets, to demand full value for their stock, to reject the negative propaganda from the factories and to insist on payment on the day.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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