Meat processors are “hell bent” on driving beef finishers out of business, says the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA).

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham criticised the current factory prices for cattle and suggested that they “in no way reflect the stark reality facing farmers trying to finish castle over the winter”.

Graham insisted that the “additional costs associated with finishing cattle in sheds over the winter months should be obvious to all”.

“This year, there is no getting away from the fact that our costs have gone up astronomically and farmers are getting more and more angry that these inflated production costs are simply being ignored by the factories,” he said.

‘Same old excuses’

The ICSA beef chair went on to describe how at the recent Beef Vision group meeting, “Meat Industry Ireland talked about supporting their suppliers”. However, he said “all we’ve got since are the same old excuses about why we must accept less”.

“It’s just not washing with farmers who cannot see any justification for feeding cattle over the winter as they see prices being slashed again this week. We are now way back from prices being paid for cattle coming off grass in early summer which makes no sense at all.”

Graham contrasted the profits of beef processors with the incomes earned by farmers in the sector.

“Our beef industry is worth billions, yet, according to Teagasc this week, annual incomes for beef producers are set to be the lowest of any farming sector in 2022. The fact that these same farmers are also expected to shoulder 100% of the risk associated with producing beef just adds insult to injury.

“The direness of the situation is plain to see and unless the newly established Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain has the teeth to deal with this blatant lack of fair play the consequences will be even more dire,” he warned.

‘Minimum prices’

The ICSA representative called on the wider meat industry to “recognise the hardship facing farmers” and “get on board with offering guaranteed minimum prices for winter finishing”.

“This is something ICSA has been looking for as no farmer can operate a business on the basis of feeding cattle just to lose money. It’s completely unsustainable and the days of factories thinking it’s reasonable to keep beef prices for next spring a total mystery must come to an end,” he said.

He also claimed that winter finishers have received no support from the Government in light of the ongoing input cost inflation they are facing.

Read more

Farmers face record feed costs this winter