‘Competition between live exports and factories the only hope for the beef sector’

The live exports of heavier cattle to Turkey will counteract factory efforts to drive down beef price, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA).

The ICSA said that it proves once again that the only hope for the beef sector in this country is competition between live exports and factories.

It also shows that efforts to open beef markets in China, America and elsewhere, although worthwhile in the long term, are not delivering real and instant benefits to farmers, Edmond Phelan, the ICSA Beef Chairman, said.

“ICSA wants to see more support for the live trade from the Minister because this is the only show in town to deliver badly needed relief to hard pressed cattle farmers.”

Phelan said that heavy bulls over 550kg are being shipped to Turkey next week.

While there has been a lot of talk about the lighter weanlings, the live export of heavier cattle to Turkey could provide more competitive beef prices in Ireland.

“At prices of up to €2.20/kg liveweight, this trade will mean factory prices for bulls are not competitive and farmers should look very carefully at their options in terms of feeding these kind of cattle.

“This is potentially a much more beneficial development in terms of getting cattle out of the country and getting some real competition into the beef trade in the immediate future,” Phelan said.

Phelan is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed and his Department to make sure this boat is passed immediately to help stop the blatant opportunism by the meat industry to use the recent inclement weather to savagely reduce prices.

Turkey is a major importer of cattle and during the first four months of 2016, it imported 100,000 head of EU origin cattle.

Irish exports to Turkey received clearance in June following a pro-active and detailed engagement between the Department and its Turkish counterparts and an inspection by a Turkish veterinary delegation in May.