Currency rates turn Northern finishers off Southern cattle
New figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission in Northern Ireland show a significant decline in the store cattle trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Exports to Northern Ireland for further production during the first half of 2016 are notably below import levels during the corresponding period in 2015.
The LMC figures show a total of 1,145 male store cattle were exported from the South for further production on Northern farms during the first six months of 2016, a decline from the 3,520 head imported during the same period in 2015.
During June 2016, exports of prime cattle from the Republic for further production totalled 126 head compared to 269 head during June 2015.
The LMC says if this trend of lower imports for further production continues into the second half of 2016 it would indicate a notable decline from previous years.
It says the strengthening of euro against Sterling during 2016 to date will have been an influential factor in the decline in imports from the Republic for further production on Northern farms.
With a stronger euro, store cattle in the South have also become relatively more expensive in Sterling terms therefore making them less attractive for cattle finishers in Northern Ireland.
The LMC also says that it is important that anyone considering importing cattle for further production is aware of the potential for significant penalties to be applied to these mixed origin cattle at point of slaughter reflecting their lower end market value.
A similar story can be seen in the finished cattle trade between the North and the South.
The LMC figures show that during the 12-week period ending July 16, 2016 1,230 prime cattle were exported from the Republic for direct slaughter in Northern plants, accounting for 2% of total prime cattle throughput in the North.
This was a decline from the corresponding period in 2015 when 5,097 prime cattle were exported from the south for direct slaughter accounting for 8% of the Northern Ireland prime cattle slaughterings.
The LMC figues show that during the first half of 2016 the level of import has been notably lower than the corresponding period in 2015 with exports of prime cattle from the Republic for direct slaughter totalling 358 head during June 2016, accounting for 1% of the total Northern prime cattle kill.
In comparison, exports of prime cattle from the Republic during June 2015 totalled 1,528 head which accounted for 8% of the total Northern prime cattle kill.
Again, the LMC says the key factor behind the decline in imports has been the strengthening of the euro against sterling.
It says exports of prime cattle from the South for direct slaughter in Northern plants generally peak in the autumn months as the number of cattle coming available for slaughter increases.
However, the LMC says with current levels of imports running lower than previous years and with the euro currently trading strongly against sterling it remains to be seen what level of imports will be recorded this year.
Another factor behind the declining level of exports during 2016 to date, according to the LMC has been the steady supplies of Northern origin prime cattle available to meet demand for beef which has resulted in less demand for prime cattle imported from the South.