ICSA beef price protest brings ABP plant to standstill

Large crowds of frustrated farmers have protested outside ABP in Clones, Co. Monaghan, this morning to reflect the anger at continuous cuts in beef price by meat factories.

The protest has been organised by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) who say that farmers in the beef sector have been “crucified by beef price cuts” in a year when farmers have substantial extra costs due to extreme weather.

Edmund Graham, ICSA beef chairman, said farmers cannot continue to produce beef at current prices.

“It is beyond belief that in a year like this, when farmers are on their knees with extra cost arising from a fodder crisis, that the meat industry would seek to increase profits on the back of farmers.

There has been an orchestrated effort to drive down price at a rate of 5c/kg/week. The current price of €3.70/kg is totally inadequate when costs of production are at least €4.40/kg for cattle from the dairy herd.

Meanwhile, he added that the suckler herd is not profitable unless price is closer to €5/kg.

Fighting back

Graham stated that it is time for farmers to fight back.

“We cannot go on working for nothing and risking substantial capital finishing cattle, especially as we enter the expensive winter finishing period,” he said.

Graham was also highly critical of the failure of new international markets to deliver strong prices for farmers.

“Compared to five years ago, we have seen the opening of markets in the US, China, South East Asia and this week Kuwait. Yet, there has been no benefit to farmers and prices today are weaker than five years ago.

Meat factories and retailers love to talk about sustainable systems of beef production. ICSA believes that unless cattle farmer incomes are economically sustainable, all the rest is just pie in the sky.

“The meat industry cannot be allowed to drive farmers out of business. ICSA believes it is an unacceptable element of the sector that meat factories are using their own feedlots to manipulate price.”

He contends that the price cutting is also a way of subduing store cattle price with a view to getting cheaper cattle for factory-owned feedlots.

“ICSA is sending out a strong message that farmers cannot stand idly by as their livelihoods are being decimated. Further action cannot be ruled out,” concluded Graham.