Meat factories have been called upon to reverse the beef price cuts and restore some level of confidence to producers by IFA’s President Joe Healy.

Based on the market returns from the UK, it is clear the factories could easily reverse some of the price cuts of recent weeks and increase returns to Irish farmers, who are currently selling at a loss, he said.

Factories have cut beef prices by up to 20c/kg since September 1, while prices in the UK have increased by 2-3p/kg per week, every week since early May, according to the IFA President.

Currently beef prices in the UK are £3.64/kg, he said, which is the equivalent to €4.43/kg including VAT. However, this week factories were quoting €3.70/kg for R3 grade steers in Ireland.

This opens up up a massive gap of 70c/kg or €250 per head with prices in our best and nearest export market, Healy also said.

Market figures clearly show that the price cutting tactics of the meat factories are unjustified and have driven livestock farmers into serious loss making territory, as well as shaking confidence in the sector, he said.

Healy also said the last available set of AIMS data from the Department of Agriculture on cattle supplies show that numbers in the 24-36 month age category for beef cattle are down by 44,000 head compared to 2015 figures.

Meanwhile, in the last three weeks supplies have been strong, with a lot of cattle being killed recently meaning supplies could become tighter in the weeks and months ahead, Healy has said.

He added that factories had taken advantage of the bad weather and increased supplies in western and northern counties in recent weeks to unfairly pull prices.

The IFA President said the first boat load of live cattle are arriving in Turkey and hopefully many more shipments will follow over the coming weeks and months.

Shippers are actively buying in the marts and the live trade has brought competition as well as putting a floor in the price, as the autumn weanling sales had kicked in, according to Healy.