Farmers warned market may demand 14-month-old beef

Farmers could be forced to produce finished beef steers as young as 14 months, and if Irish farmers and processors can’t supply it someone else will, Padraig Browne of Dunbia Meats told the IFA beef meeting in Navan last night.

UK farmers, he said, are producing bull beef at 16 month in the UK and retailers there will want steer beef under 24 months by 2020. “It’s a competition driven business and if we don’t do it someone else will. We have to work with them.”

He went on to say that if the British retailers want to buy UK beef that is there choice. While Irish beef has always been accepted into the UK, he said, it has been at below British the beef price. “And if you don’t like that, then you go elsewhere. Unfortunately, the retailers does not take all the cuts from these animals.”

However, he assertion that Irish beef farmers problems started with ‘horse gate’ were rejected by the floor. “Our problems arose with horse gate and the prices were over inflated. Last year, he said, there was no one more disappointed than us when horse meat scandal broke. He said Dunbia had just got its foot in the door of Morrissons (supermarket chain) but this ended as a result of that. “We were just in the door of Morrissons and lost that contract.”

However farmers on the floor questioned why farmers had to pay the price for the horse meat scandal, when it wasn’t them who caused it.