‘Staggering’ €200 gap between R3 steer prices north and south

A “staggering” €200 gap has opened up between southern R3 steers and their Northern Irish equivalents, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Commenting, ICMSA livestock chairman Des Morrison said that Irish farmer beef prices seem to be “deliberately detached from their closest counterparts and the prices being fetched and paid in their destination markets”.

“It’s not good enough and the old explanations are even more threadbare now.

How can there be a €200 per head difference in identical steers 30-odd miles apart?

Morrison said that the exact new costs of getting Irish products to British markets need to be established and where and when the new expenses were being added.

The chairperson acknowledged that there are additional administrative and logistical costs but stressed that there is “still an unacceptable vagueness around the exact figures involved and what portion of the increase was being ‘picked up’ by who on the Irish side”.

“It looks as if all the new costs in getting our beef to the British markets, had been just passed back to the farmer primary-producers – and more taken with it.

It surely wouldn’t be too difficult for the department to work with other state agencies and establish the new logistical and administrative costs post Brexit?

“Their calculations would be accepted by all and would allow us to start establishing who should be paying what part of the increases.

“Because, as of now, it looks very much like all the new costs have been deducted from the prices paid to the farmer-suppliers with the factories taking a bonus for themselves.

“What about the factories absorbing some of the increased post-Brexit costs?

Winter-finishing in Ireland is being put under unbearable pressure and the alarm bells should be ringing.

“I genuinely fear for the future of year-round finishing if we don’t get to the bottom of some of these issues and start solving them,” Morrison concluded.