‘Increased use of factory-owned feedlots undermining farmer profits’

Beef factories are increasingly using their own feedlots to undermine the chance of independent farmers making a profit, the ICSA Suckler Chairman John Halley said.

He believes that the growth and expansion of the live export trade is key to ensuring that beef farmers can earn a viable living in the future.

The outlook for live exports is beginning to look more positive for the year ahead, he said.

The reality is that the only future for farmers is to see as many live exports as possible.

Calf exports to the Netherlands have picked up and are running at almost double the level of last year, while Spain is also taking significant numbers of calves, he said.

At the moment Irish feeders are interested in heavier weanlings, which is linked to the fact that they are somewhat scarce at present in some parts of the country, he added.

With the prospect of Turkey becoming a key customer for Irish cattle in 2017 and the high levels of calf exports to both the Netherlands and Spain, Halley believes factories could be anxious for beef in the early summer months.

Factories don’t want to admit it, but there are some signs that they are going to be anxious for beef during the early summer.

“Reports suggest that they are buying significant numbers of forward stores to kill from their own feedlots in May and June.

“Farmers selling stores at present are in a stronger position than they have been for a while,” he said.

Live exports are key to combating factories increasingly using their own feedlots and rented sheds to undermine the chance of independent farmers making a profit, he added.