Farmers are being urged to set a bottom line of €4/kg for beef to start 2016 by ICSA Beef Chairman Edmond Phelan.
“We have got to take a stand now and get prices moving upwards.
“No farmer should sell overage cattle or O grade cattle for less. Obviously, this means that the base price on the grid needs to move to about €4.20/kg,” he said.
Phelan said that ICSA is utterly opposed to unrealistic weight limits and continues to fight against the 30 month cut-off.
“We must work on the basis that the bottom line is €4 and if the factories want extra spec’ or conformation they must pay more for that.
“Even at that farmers will struggle to break even. As cattle get scarce in the coming months we need to push for higher prices.
The reality is that current prices make winter finishing completely unviable.
Phelan said that there is a brief window of opportunity to push for higher prices in the first six months of 2016 while cattle are still scarce and markets are improving.
“After that, it is expected that cattle will gradually get more plentiful and factories will use this to drive down prices.
“That’s why it’s so important to begin pushing for higher prices straight away. As a benchmark, we need a minimum price of €4.50/kg by the end of the spring for O grade cattle, over 30 months,” he said.
Phelan said that the Irish beef sector can only exist if everybody along the chain gets a fair margin.
“It is not sustainable for beef finishers to make a profit if the store or suckler farmer makes a loss and vice-versa.
“ICSA is opposed to meat factories owning feedlots but the way things are going, the factories will have to finance a lot more cattle in feedlots if beef farmers can’t make a margin,” he said.