Northern Irish beef farmers are losing £1m a week – UFU

Beef farmers in Northern Ireland are losing £1m (€1.28m) each week, according to the UFU, due to a considerable reduction in beef price.

Ulster Farmers’ Union Beef and Lamb Chairman, Crosby Cleland said that the loss has occurred as the beef price farmers received during the first three months of this year is back on the same time last year.

“It’s no surprise that losses on this scale are undermining producer confidence and creating uncertainty about what the future holds for family farms.

With direct payments to beef farmers set to drop each year until 2021, processors must realise they will have to pay more for cattle if they want supplies to be maintained.

The UFU representative has also criticised beef producers who seek to talk the trade down.

“Beef prices are already at a level that is not viable.

“For processors to seek to drive prices even lower highlights the short term view they often take, as they seek to capitalise at farmers’ expense,” he said.

He added that in reality no-one knows what will happen in the market this year.

What is certain is that if we allow processors to continue driving more negativity into the market then we as farmers will start believing it exists.

The UFU Beef and Sheep Chairman also believes that cattle numbers being processed are beginning to tighten, while exports from the UK since the beginning of the year have significantly increased on the back of a weaker Sterling euro rate.

“There also continues to be a considerable price differential between Northern Ireland and Britain. This has to mean that processors here are finding a ready home for beef, whether that is in the UK or wider European markets,” Cleland.

Cleland also encouraged farmers to hold out for the best prices they can get to make sure that are not better of gifting processors with under-finished cattle which may be better of in the ring.