The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan has rejected claims by Meat Industry Ireland (MII) about beef prices.

Following a meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce yesterday (Tuesday, March 9), MII said that the initial findings of a comprehensive evaluation of the Irish beef sector, in an independent report by Grant Thornton, have shown that farmers receive 80% of total sales revenue earned by processors.

Tim Cullinan said: “At last night’s IFA online beef meeting, attended by 250 farmers, the fact that the Irish price is now 13c behind the Bord Bia Prime Export Benchmark price was highlighted, which is based on a weighted composite price in our main export markets.

“Beef prices must push on and reflect the reality of the market place.”

Tim Cullinan said despite the claims of MII, Grant Thornton admitted to the beef taskforce yesterday that it doesn’t have the authority to access the information needed for a full and independent appraisal of the value of beef at all points in the supply chain.

Because of these constraints, the output is based only on the information that participants are willing to provide, Cullinan noted.

New legislation

The IFA president continued: “Minister [for Agriculture, Charlie] McConalogue outlined the importance of greater transparency in the supply chain and he must now come forward with the primary legislation that allows the Office of the Food Ombudsman / Regulator source and provide this information independently.”

IFA Livestock Committee chairman Brendan Golden said at last night’s meeting, farmers expressed disbelief that the European Commission is attempting to proceed with the Mercosur deal with South American countries.

“It is unbelievable that following Brexit and the added environmental and production controls the EU are imposing on Irish farmers through the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy], that they are looking at allowing more beef into the EU market to further undermine Irish and EU farmers,” Golden said.

We will be meeting the Tánaiste and Minister for Trade Leo Varadkar shortly to put the strongest message across that the Irish government must oppose the deal.

Brendan Golden said market conditions are strong for beef and are expected to improve; supplies of cattle are tight and factories must return the full value of the market place in increased beef prices.

He said the Easter demand and the returning food service sector in the UK and throughout the EU as vaccines are rolled out, will further drive demand for beef. The strong performance of beef in supermarkets is reflecting changes in consumer purchasing habits.

Predictions for the year are of tight supplies of finished cattle in Ireland, the UK and the EU, creating favourable market conditions for Irish beef which the IFA said must be reflected in prices.

Brendan Golden said prices are strengthening as factories and agents work hard to secure supplies.