Rising markets for beef in the EU and UK “must be reflected” in prices for farmers here, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said.

Brendan Golden, the association’s livestock chairperson, called for processors to move to keep pace with “significant increases” in cattle prices across the water and on the continent.

Speaking this morning, (Monday, November 1), he noted that the latest prime export benchmark price is €4.19/kg, which is 9c/kg above the prime Irish composite price of €4.10/kg.

“Beef prices in our key markets have strengthened consistently over the past number of weeks, up 10c/kg, against a background of static Irish prices.

“Demand for beef is strong and will increase over the coming weeks as supplies continue to tighten. UK supplies are predicted to be 5% below last year’s levels over this period,” Golden outlined.

The IFA livestock chair argued that the reduced numbers of suitable prime cattle for slaughter in Ireland that is available to factories over the coming months is “very evident on the ground”.

He cited predictions from Bord Bia that there will be some 40,000 fewer cattle to slaughter between now and year-end, based on throughput to-date.

“Farmers should dig-in and sell hard as supplies of prime cattle are well short of market demand. The base price offered to most farmers – of €4.20/kg for steers and €4.25/kg for heifers – is lagging behind what the market is returning and they must push on.”

Golden added: “Attempts by some factories to lower cow prices are unjustified and should be resisted.”

He also drew attention to the “continual increase” in production costs that “cannot be avoided”, arguing that these “must be reflected” in the beef price.

“Rising production costs must be factored in by meat factories in supply contracts with supermarkets and returned to farmers in higher cattle prices,” Golden argued.

He concluded: “As a starting point, the strength of our key markets must be returned immediately in the higher prices justified by the current market conditions.”