The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) has predicted a rise in beef prices, saying that supplies are likely to dry up with many farmers choosing to finish their cattle off grass later in the spring than they usually do.
The move towards finishing off grass later in the spring has been prompted by high meal costs, ICMSA’s livestock chair Des Morrison commented.
He stated that factories would be forced to up quotes to secure supplies and also that Irish beef prices do not appear representative of those being paid to farmers in other beef farming countries in the EU.
“Nobody is going to spend a fortune finishing cattle on nuts and then bring them in to get a derisory price from the factories. We think that farmers are going to hold off until possibly April and finish them on grass,” Morrison said.
The farmer group cited upward beef quote movement in both the UK and the continent over the past two weeks as evidence of a growing gap between beef prices in Ireland and those being paid by processors elsewhere.
“As is by now customary, Ireland is yet again the exception, where our prices have fallen. Every market we sell into or bear any comparison to has rising prices, but our factories have cut the price they pay us.”
“Every enquiry and review into our beef sector just comes up against this mystery where our beef prices seem to be deliberately disconnected from everyone else’s - even the markets that we sell into - and we want to know why,” he claimed.
Underlying issues unaddressed
Morrison suggested that stakeholder initiatives in the beef sector overseen by the Department of Agriculture have yet to tackle broader issues affecting beef farmers, such as the price disparity he drew attention to.
“We have so many of these ‘vision’ and ‘forum’ reports that set out to look at the underlying problems in our beef sector and always seem to start and finish with what farmers must do - or must be made to do,” the ICMSA representative added.
“In the meantime, we have glaring anomalies around the prices paid by factories that are never addressed, much less answered.”