The first meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce has now come to an end, with some farm organisations suggesting that an increase in cattle prices may soon be on the cards.

The meeting broke at around 2:00pm this afternoon, Tuesday, December 3, after over four hours of talks, and afterwards, AgriLand caught up with the main players to get their views.

On the issue of price, the Beef Plan Movement representatives commented that “we’re expecting that something will happen soon”.

“We can’t predict when, but we’re hoping it will happen soon,” said Dermot O’Brien, Beef Plan spokesperson and one of the group’s contingent today.

On the meeting as a whole, O’Brien said that it had been generally progressive, despite a lack of discussion on certain issues today.

As regards a possible future meeting, no date has been formally set, and the provisional timeline of quarterly meetings was apparently rejected by the farm organisations.

O’Brien did note that the representatives for Meat Industry Ireland (MII) were “receptive” to the concerns that were raised.

All the farm organisations were very adamant that a price rise has to happen soon. So MII is going to return to their members to discuss this.

Meanwhile, Edmond Phelan, the president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), commented that: “We feel a price rise is imminent.

“We haven’t been told when or how much, but we do get the impression that it is going to come,” Phelan noted.

“So I would advise beef farmers that, at last, we can start to bargain. Up to now, people were nearly happy to get animals away. But if you have animals ready to go, ask for an increase,” the ICSA president told AgriLand.

MII did seem receptive. They don’t set the prices, but they have said they will bring the message back loud and clear that a price rise is needed, and farmers badly want it.

This point was echoed by Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

McCormack noted: “There was a good conversation about base price. Certainly MII took the message strong that the farm organisations were very united on that, [and] that has to move with immediate effect.”

That unity of farm organisations was also mentioned by Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), who commented: “Every one of us represents farmers, and farmers want a price increase, so obviously when it comes to price increases, there is unity.”

Healy also spoke about the new Bord Bia price index, and the emerging gap between beef prices here and in other jurisdictions.

Around the table, there was an acceptance that the price index showed a price increase in all our main markets…that needs to be reflected here…it’s well justified and well needed.

Finally, Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy also made reference to the price index, and the diverging prices between here and the UK.

“There’s been suggestions that [an increase] is coming, it’s coming; and farmers just cannot wait anymore, especially going into the calving season. People are making decisions about the viability of their entire sector,” Duffy stressed.

“Farmers, particularity young farmers, cannot wait any longer; we need to see that, and we need to see that very, very soon,” the Macra president insisted.