The Covid-19 pandemic represents a shock to the beef market “of a magnitude that requires immediate response by the European Commission”, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

ICMSA Livestock Committee chair Des Morrison said that, while the change is temporary, the current situation is that customary market outlets of food service have effectively closed while sales to retail have rocketed.

The result was that certain cuts are in huge demand while sales for other cuts have plummeted.

This will settle down but, in the meantime, we have to address an unprecedented market shock – and that means taking immediate measures aimed at stabilising the EU beef market and protecting our family farm-based sustainable system of beef production.

As part of these measures, ICMSA is calling for the immediate suspension of beef imports from outside the EU.

The chairman said these imports “specifically target the steak market which is under most pressure at this time in the absence of a food service market”.

Morrison said that such a suspension is justified based on the current exceptional circumstances.

In addition he said it is imperative to protect Ireland’s own beef sector “from this temporary shock until such time as the EU beef market returns to stability”.

“Profitability in the beef sector is already extremely low and the EU Commission must immediately deliver market measures and action that provides farmers with a level of confidence required to continue to produce high quality sustainable beef,” Morrison concluded.