The President of the ICMSA, John Comer, has described the present situation where bull beef prices in Ireland are presently some 17.4% lower than this time last year as highly suspicious in terms of the overall European trend and he said the price trends called into question – once again – the wisdom of the Government’s ‘hands off’ policy in relation to the Irish beef sector. In a submission to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine,  Mr Comer said that yet again farmers producing beef were being left with unsupportable losses due to downward price trends that seemed to be largely unique to Ireland and were not even being experienced in the UK – a market to which some 50% of our product is exported. He said that this combination of mysteriously low domestic prices and difficulties in our live export trade was having a devastating impact on beef prices, with bull beef prices in particular now utterly collapsed.

Mr Comer said that ICMSA considered it imperative that the Government actively consider a menu of policy changes that would go some way towards giving our beef farmers and producers some reasonable expectation that the two years they invested in producing beef was not to be completely wasted or, indeed, result in an actual financial loss.

Meanwhile EBLEX in the UK is reporting that Brazilian beef exports in the first nine months of 2013 were up by more than a quarter compared with a year earlier.

A combination of higher production, tight global supplies and a weaker real meant that at 851,000 tonnes, shipments were at their highest level since 2007 and the surge is likely to have meant that Brazil overtook Australia as the world’s leading beef exporter during the period.

Russia remained the leading market for Brazilian beef, accounting for 28 per cent of total volumes. This was a slightly lower share than a year earlier, even though shipments were up 16 per cent. Overall export growth was driven by Hong Kong and Venezuela. The former took more than twice as much Brazilian beef as a year earlier, while volumes sent to the latter were up by more than three-quarters. Most smaller markets also took more, although Egypt and Iran were exceptions. Iran was the second largest export market in 2011 but volumes have dropped by more than 70 per cent since then.