Only 2% of beef farmers have a current production contract with a processor/ purchaser, according to a survey by AIB.

Farmers responding to the survey said that the main reasons for not engaging in a contract with a processor/purchaser include insufficient scale (17%); processor not interested (13%); and no benefit envisaged (11%), it found.

One quarter of beef farmers indicate that they are willing to enter into a contract with a processor/purchaser in 2015, and a further 17% are possibly interested, the survey found.

The highest level of interest or possible interest in production contracts is among beef farmers aged over 60 years (45%) compared to 27% of those aged between 45 and 60 years, it says.

Similarly, the AIB survey found that the level of interest or possible interest in a contract is highest among those purchasing cattle for finishing (54%) and lowest among dairy beef producers (34%).

The level of interest in a contract increases from 30% of those farming less than 30ha to 54% of those farming over 50ha.

Discussion group participation by beef farmers

One quarter of beef farmers are currently members of a beef discussion group, according to a recent survey by AIB.

The survey found that the highest level of participation is among farmers aged between 35 and 54 years, which is 33% of farmers.

The lowest level of participation in discussion groups was among beef farmers aged over 55 years, which is 17%, it found.

Suckler to weanling producers have the highest level of participation (33%) while no weanling to store producer (in this survey) is involved in a group, it says.

The survey found that discussion group participation increases with the area farmed, with 19% of those farming less than 30ha compared to 30% of those farming more than 50ha.

The AIB survey found that the level of participation in discussion groups is significantly influenced by the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) payment.

It found that participation is also influenced by the focus placed on beef discussion groups between 2012 and 2014.

Four out of every five discussion group members joined their group since the introduction of BTAP, respondents said.

The main benefit of discussion group participation is identified as learning from other farmers (79%), the AIB survey found.

One in 10 beef farmers identify guidance on grassland management and a similar amount identify cost control as benefits of taking part in discussion groups according to the survey.