IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has said the grass cattle are now gone and winter finishers need a substantial price increase to cover costs and sell cattle out of sheds.
He said traditional winter finishers are not going to feed cattle at a loss and many are considering putting stock to grass next spring.
He said beef prices are rising but far too slowly, and base prices of €3.70/3.75/kg for steers have been paid this week with €3.80/3.85/kg paid for heifers. He said these prices need to go a lot further in the lead into Christmas, “The positive change to sterling, moving from 89p back to 85p/€, is worth 20c/kg in returns. Factories are in a position to lift beef prices and farmers selling cattle are demanding more.”
The IFA livestock leader said, “With the forecast for an additional 100,000 head of cattle next year, a strong live export trade is vital for calves, weanlings, stores and finished cattle. Live exports are essential for competition and to support market balance and viable prices, as well as additional market outlets”.
He called on the Department of Agriculture to increase resources and dedicated personnel on market access and to prioritise the live trade. In addition, he said Minister Creed must work to remove the barriers on the live trade to Northern Ireland and Britain.
Angus Woods said a boat taking up to 4,000 weanlings was loaded last week for Turkey and another boat is being loaded this week with store cattle for Libya. He said IFA worked hard to open the Turkish market for live exports and it is positive to see ships sailing every odd week at this stage.
Angus Woods raised Brexit issues for the beef sector directly with the EU Commission and Commissioner Hogan at sessions in Brussels and the European Parliament this week.
At a meeting with MEPs in the European Parliament on Tuesday evening, Angus Woods said the collapse in beef prices blamed on Brexit is a market disturbance, similar to the Russian ban, and justifies direct action by the EU Commission. He called on the Government to mount a strong campaign at national and EU level to the challenge from Brexit.