There are currently 130,000 additional cattle in the 0-12 month age bracket raising fears for the beef trade next year.

According to IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns market access will be a key issue for the next meeting of the Beef Forum.

He said it is clear the Minister needs to secure real and substantially increased market outlets in 2016/2017 to avoid a repeat of the price, marketing and income problems of 2014.

He said real access to the US and China is essential and particularly access for manufacturing beef to the US.

Burns also said that as well as the importance of securing real access to additional beef markets, access to live cattle markets are equally as important in terms of cattle price competition and additional outlets.

He said there are very good opportunities available for live cattle exports to Egypt, Libya, the Lebanon and Turkey as well as Morocco and Algeria.

“It is vital that action is taken on securing exports to all of these live cattle markets so as to encourage the trade and maximised exports,” he said.

Beef price

Burns has also said that farmers are very frustrated that cattle prices have not moved on to reflect the higher returns from our main export market in the UK and the strength of Sterling.

The IFA National Livestock Chairman said that, based on cattle prices in our main export market in the UK, where R3 steers are making £3.52/kg, the equivalent of €5.25/kg incl vat, there is real potential for Irish cattle prices to rise.

He said the price gap that has opened up with Irish prices of €1.28/kg is unsustainable.

‘Factory propaganda’

Burns also called on Minister Simon Coveney to immediately intervene through the Beef Forum to deal with the threats on farmers from factories on key issues around weights and specifications.

“Some of the propaganda from the meat plants around weight limits are totally unacceptable and would severely damage the Irish beef sector.

“In addition, a weight limit would completely undermine the Quality Payment System price grid.”

He said the Minister needs to ensure that the agreements made at the Forum are implemented.