The number of beef cattle slaughtered in Ireland may well fall, year-on-year. But’s this is no guarantee that farmgate prices will rise substantially, according to Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) General Secretary Eddie Punch.

“I am aware of the predictions currently doing the rounds with regard to the prospects for beef prices in 2015,” he commented.

“Certainly, there will be less beef produced in Ireland over the next twelve months. And we will wait and see how exactly this will play out from a markets point of view. However, other factors will come into play, including beef output levels in other EU member states, particularly the UK. So, yes, there may well be a strengthening in Irish beef prices in 2015. But the jury is still out on just how much impetus will be generated in terms of improved farmgate returns over the coming months.2

But irrespective of what happens to beef prices in 2015, ICSA will be pressing to ensure that the Beef Round Table delivers for Irish livestock farmers.

“The next meeting of the Round Table will take place in January,” Punch said.

“And there is a large amount of unfinished business left over from the last get-together. In the first instance, the meat factories must be brought to book over the issue of dual pricing. The last thing we want is for issues of this magnitude to be let slip on the back of improved producer prices, only for them to come back to bite us the next time markets start to dip. There are fundamental fault lines with the beef industry at processing and retail level. And these must be addressed on a proactive basis over the coming months.”

Punch went on to re-iterate the benefits of having Europe’s food processers and retailers forensically audited on a regular basis.

“We believe this to be a more rigorous way of dealing with the glaring imbalance within the agri food supply chain, which discriminates against primary producers,” he said.

“And if retailers are found to be generating excessive profits at the expense of farmers then they should be fined accordingly.”