The factories must strengthen the prices they are paying for cattle over the coming days, claims Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden.

Commenting, he said:

The current average of €3.75/kg just won’t cut it. This is well below the Teagasc break-even figure of €4.50/kg.

“This is the second successive year that Irish beef finishers have been killing cattle in debt during the winter months. This situation must be rectified.”

Golden continued:

“The Brexit trade deal has been sorted. There will be no tariffs or quotas placed on Irish beef exports to the UK. Irish beef returns must better reflect the conditions that exist on the British market.”

The IFA will be closely monitoring the size of the Irish beef kill over the coming days, the chairman asserted. Continuing, Golden noted that Irish factories may have shipped additional quantities of beef to the UK prior to the New Year in an attempt to reduce the impact of tariffs, had they been introduced.

“We will also be monitoring this situation carefully,” he added.

“There are lots of positives associated with Irish beef production at the present time. One of these has been the increase in live exports to Northern Ireland over recent months.

But the fundamental requirement of getting prices improved is an absolute priority.

Significantly, Golden believes that organisations such as the National Farmers’ Union and the Ulster Farmers’ Union will be happy to partner with the IFA when it comes to keeping cheap beef out of the UK. He further explained:

“Irish beef is produced to the same standards as those expected from beef farmers in the UK.

“Irish beef will never undercut the British market. But the same cannot be said for beef coming into the UK from places like South America.

“We cannot compete with such countries on the basis of price. But this is only part of the story. Beef from places like South America is not produced to the same standards as those that are continuously achieved by farmers in the UK and Ireland.

IFA is deeply concerned that the UK will seek to secure trade deals with countries like Brazil. However, the good news is that we have strong allies amongst the farming lobby in the UK when it comes to upholding the production standards required for all beef sold on the British market.

Golden concluded:

“There is also a strong onus on the European Union not to allow cheap beef imports from third countries. Again, it’s all about production standards.”