Meat Industry Ireland (MII) says it is fully aware of the out-of-spec bull crisis.

In a statement to Agriland today, it said the spring market was challenging.

According to an MII spokesman, industry representatives and farming organisations met this week to discuss the current challenges in the marketplace. He explained the increased kill over recent weeks resulted in the maintenance of producer prices for in-spec cattle over the past two months.

He stressed: “Market conditions were always more challenging as we head into February as consumers across Europe alter purchasing behaviour in the face of the post-Christmas credit card bills.”

Specifically on the young bull issue, the MII spokesman said processors are committed to working with their supplier base to ensure an orderly marketing of the backlog.

He added with regard to specific requests from the Irish Farming Association on an increased young bull kill, meat industry representatives are fully aware on the issue at hand. “We are committed to a constructive approach on this short-term supply overhang in a supportive manner notwithstanding the need to market beef in an orderly fashion.”

The MII spokesman did not elaborate further.

The meeting comes on the back of another fall in factory prices for young bulls last week. According to Department of Agriculture statistics prices for U3 bulls were back €0.10 on the previous week to €3.86.3/kg. Prices for R3 bulls were also back at €3.77/kg a fall of €0.08. Prices for poorer quality stock were also down. O3 and P3 grades saw a fall of €0.06 and €0.08 respectively. O3 grades were making €3.47/kg and P3 prices were reported at €3.29/kg.

After the MII meeting yesterday, IFA president Eddie Downey said the farming organisation made it very clear that prices must stabilise and the bull kill must increase over the coming weeks to help alleviate the difficulties.

In a statement to Agriland, Downey said: “The IFA outlined to the factories that there is real frustration among beef finishers with the way bull beef prices have been cut in the past five weeks and that producers are finding it difficult to get bulls killed.”

He said nobody was left in any doubt that prices must be stabilised immediately and bulls must be killed before any weight or age restrictions are applied.

In addition he stressed prices and deals must be honoured and any delay in getting cattle killed cannot result in a price cut.