Factories are undermining the beef market with unnecessary cattle price cuts, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) National Livestock Chairman, Angus Woods.

These price cuts are geared at eroding confidence at farm level, Woods added.

He explained that the factory price cuts are not justified based on market returns, pointing out that cattle prices in our main market in the UK continue to rise to the equivalent of €4.48/kg.

In addition, he said there is no beef in stock. EU and international markets are stronger than last year; hide and offal returns are also higher, he added.

Last year, there was a serious overhang of beef from the cull in the EU dairy sector, which is not the case this year.

Farmers need to be well armed with the true market position, according to Woods, and they cannot be manipulated or bullied by self-serving propaganda.

He said: “The base price for steers is generally €4.00/kg, with some deals at €4.05/kg, and all factories quoting €3.95/kg.

“On heifers, the general base price is €4.10/kg – but again plants are quoting less to frighten producers into selling.”

Meanwhile, the mart trade remains firm with strong live export and farmer buying, Woods concluded.

Heifer prices

A recent look at European prices for R3 grade heifers shows that the Republic of Ireland sits behind Britain and Northern Ireland in the league table.

In the week ending July 23, British farmers received 18c/kg more than Irish farmers, figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

This equated to a price difference of €50.40 on an R3 grade heifer carcass weighing 280kg.

Comparing prices on the island of Ireland show that farmers in Northern Ireland received the equivalent of 6.7c/kg more on an R3 grade heifer in the week ending July 23. This equalled €18.76 on a 280kg heifer carcass.

A price difference of 11.3c/kg – or €31.64 on a 280kg R3 grade heifer carcass – was evident between British and Northern Irish farmers in the same week.

At the end of the third week in July, Irish heifer prices sat in fifth position in the EU league table. British and Northern Irish prices retained second and third place respectively.