Prices for young cattle and finished cattle have been forecast to decline by approximately 4% in 2019.

This is according to the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI)/Teagasc Agricultural Land Market Review and Outlook 2019.

The report further outlined that this is predicted to be the case even with the assumption of continued unimpeded access to the UK market.

It noted that the forecasted decline in cattle prices can be “partly attributed” to the increase in slaughter numbers (cows and heifers) and the continued uncertainty around Brexit.

On average, the costs of production for beef are forecast to decrease significantly, leading to some improvement in margins for cattle finishers.

According to the report, the introduction of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme will add to margins on the single suckling enterprises which have entered the programme.

It is, however, expected that the average net margin on single suckling enterprises will be negative in 2019.

On the average cattle finishing enterprise, the situation is a little more promising, with the net margin expected to break-even in 2019.

The report also states that, in 2018, the average gross margin per hectare earned on cattle finishing enterprises was estimated to be €428/ha in 2018, 11% down on the 2017 level.

It noted that beef farming remains the largest agricultural enterprise activity in Ireland in terms of land use and farm numbers, and occupies more than two-thirds of the grassland area in Ireland.