Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue and the government have been called on to “now redouble their efforts” to secure an immediate return of Irish beef to the Chinese market.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) made the calls following the announcement this afternoon (Wednesday, March 24) that Ireland has fulfilled the criteria to attain OIE negligible risk status for BSE – and may attain this status in May if all goes well.

“It’s a welcome recognition of the work and production standards on Irish farms,” IFA president Tim Cullinan said.

However, IFA Livestock Committee chairman Brendan Golden said the critical issue for farmers is to see a meaningful return from the market place in beef prices, adding:

This is a positive development for beef sales and there is no justification for our beef prices to continue lagging behind the Prime Export Tracker Price by 13c/kg.

Golden said market conditions are favourable and strengthening, and base line prices for cattle must move to a minimum of €4.00/kg to reflect the reality of the market place.

“The short-term concerns of Brexit interruption have been removed. We are on track to regain our negligible risk status for BSE, the numbers of cattle are extremely tight and supermarket demand is strong,” he added.

The chairman said factories must return “meaningful price increases” to align the Irish beef price with the market returns.

The starting point is a base of €4.00/kg based on the current Prime Export Tracker price, he asserted.