The moratorium that has been in place for 14 months regarding heavy cattle will come to an end later this month, Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has reminded farmers.

He advises farmers intending to present over weight cattle to maintain close contact with their processors in advance of presenting such animals.

“These animals are a small minority of the national kill and securing best value for our beef in international markets is strongly dependent on producing cattle that meet the specifications demanded by customers.

“From a farmers perspective it makes no sense that in-spec animals should be subsidising the minority of out-of-spec cattle,” he said.

Commenting in the aftermath of last week’s Beef Roundtable meeting, Healy said that “the meeting afforded the parties a useful opportunity to share their views on the current market situation.

“MII called for the Roundtable to address some of the key issues facing the Irish beef sector including the need to secure real access to international markets and to confront emerging challenges arising from both climate change and EU Trade negotiations.

Healy also said that MII highlighted that cattle prices year-on-year are some 10% higher than last year and have been well in excess of the EU average price throughout 2015.

This is despite the fact that export markets are proving to be extremely challenging as a result of higher levels of production in the EU, sluggish demand and the continued closure of the Russian market.

Factories on Irish/UK beef price

Healy said that there has been a strong performance on returns to producers this year and the continued misrepresentation of the price differential between Irish and British cattle serves no benefit.

“The reality is that this year the cattle price paid to farmers in Britain has fallen, while prices paid to farmers here have increased,” he said.

He attributed any increase in the gap with British prices is down to euro-Sterling exchange rate movement.

The simple fact is that domestic British beef secures a significant premium in its own market and seven of the top ten British retailers do not even stock Irish beef.

Factories on 2016 beef price

Healy added that with additional cattle disposals in the second half of next year, it will be imperative that new markets are fully open, particularly the US for manufacturing beef and China.

“We need to ensure that the additional cattle output next year is in-spec to secure the best possible return from the marketplace,” he said.