Opinion

Factories and farm organisations gaining from beef oversupply

The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine show that cattle supplies at export meat plants for the week ending August 15 stood at around 30,500 head, which was 18% higher than the equivalent week in 2013.

The figures also show that cumulative beef supplies for the year to-date are running at around 112,000 head or 12% above the figures for the corresponding period last year. Throughput of prime cattle continues to be up over 15% so far this year.

This oversupply has resulted in a decrease in prices – that’s the easy equation – oversupply depresses prices as demand can’t follow suit and factories can pay what they want for cattle.

Why are there calls under Food Harvest 2020 for 35,000 head of cattle to be going through factories, until there are export markets identified to take this increase and a very definite marketing plan?

However, the other winner in this equation are the farming organisations that receive this levy, including the ICMSA, Macra na Feirme and IFA, the latter which receives the lion’s share of the levies collected. If we take into account the levies being collected from this figure, that’s an extra 112,000 head of cattle that have went through the system so far this year, that a levy is being collected from. The levy collected is 0.15% and is bringing in at least an extra €200,000 this year to date.

While supply and demand will, eventually, sort itself out, the levy collection needs the farming organisations to re-evaluate their income sources.

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