Farmers have been called on by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) to “hold back cattle from factories where possible” based on current prices.

Commenting on the matter, ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham said:

“Current prices of €3.70/kg are not remotely acceptable from a winter finishing perspective.

“However, there are signs that the trade for beef is strong and that there is no reason for farmers to accept current prices,” he added, claiming:

The difference between Irish and UK prime beef price is at its widest since October 2018 – illustrating that farmers here are being ripped off.

The chairman noted that beef prices, along with every other asset class, troughed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 panic – but highlighted “since then EU and UK prices have recovered remarkably compared to Irish prices”.

“Prime UK price is up 60c/kg and prime EU price is up 20c/kg compared to a very poor performance by Irish factories who are barely 10c/kg better than last March.”

Compared to the EU composite price, Irish farmers are 13c/kg behind which is the worst price performance since autumn 2019, Graham noted.

“Even offal price is on an upward trajectory. So there is no excuse for the concerted effort to pull prices in the last few weeks and farmers must now start taking this into their own hands,” he said.

ICSA is calling on farmers who are in a position to do so, to refuse to sell at €3.70/kg. Whereas some farmers are up against age limits or housing pressure, other farmers are in a position to hold back cattle.

“Weather is improving, grass is growing and there are plentiful supplies of fodder.”

The beef chairman stressed that, in the ICSA’s view, there is no reason why beef prices “won’t increase significantly in the coming weeks if farmers resist right now”.

“Do not sell cattle at €3.70/kg unless absolutely necessary as you will almost certainly regret it,” he claimed.

Graham added that, while cattle numbers remain scarce, those farmers that must sell should do so through the marts.

“Factory agents are having to pay more in the marts than the factory quoted prices; it could well be a better option for most,” he concluded.