Second half of 2020 showing ‘grounds for optimism’ for beef producers

The second half of 2020 is showing “grounds for optimism” for beef producers, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack.

This view comes following a presentation by Bord Bia on the beef market outlook at last week’s Beef Market Taskforce in which it confirmed that, as of May 1, 2020, the number of male cattle over 12 months-of-age is 68,000 less than May 1, 2019. The number of beef female cattle is 25,000 less over the same time period. This is a total of 93,000 less cattle over 12 months-of-age for the rest of this year.

On the basis of this presentation, McCormack said that “the cattle number situation in the second half of 2020 is certainly grounds for optimism for beef producers” in Ireland.

Despite a turbulent start to the year with beef demands low due to Covid-19 restrictions in place across the EU, McCormack said there is still hope for the rest of the year and that “cattle supplies should be tighter than 2019, providing a level of advantage for the primary producer”.

With restrictions being relaxed, there is certainly optimism that demand levels will recover over the rest of the year, providing a reasonable market outlook for beef that has to be translated into better prices for farmers.

McCormack claimed that it had been confirmed that no additional requirements, rules or regulations will be placed on farmers in relation to the draft application to the European Commission for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Irish grass-fed beef.

“The Irish beef sector has the opportunity to get PGI status on over 70% of the beef we produce,” McCormack said.

“The ICMSA’s opinion is that, as a sector, we would be very foolish not to grasp this opportunity, given that it also provides a greater level of protection under trade agreements.

“We are going to have to factor in a potential Mercusor agreement down the line and look at every opportunity to protect our primary beef producers.”

Concluding, McCormack said: “While nobody can give any guarantees, an increased market price should flow back from some markets and, given where prices are now, we really have to look at every way of improving beef prices [for farmers].”