‘Very bleak outlook’ for winter finishers with no-deal Brexit on the cards

Fears for the outlook for winter finishers this year are growing in light of the increasing likelihood of a no-deal trade scenario between the UK and the EU.

This is amid “industry silence” on the prospects for the sector, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Edmund Graham, the association’s beef chairperson, said today (Tuesday, September 29) that beef finishers are being “left without certainty” in prices and markets.

With the potential of €740 million in tariffs being imposed, beef finishers need the full facts as to how this will affect their business.

“Yet the meat industry, the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and Teagasc have had little to offer in the way of help or advice,” Graham claimed.

According to the ICSA beef chair, it is “essential” that meat processors start making plans for forward contracts with fixed prices.

“Farmers could end up broke if they tie up substantial levels of capital in feeding cattle at high daily costs over the coming months with no guarantee of a return,” he suggested.

Farmers need clear figures from Teagasc on winter finishing costs based on today’s store prices and with a sensitivity analysis to allow for a no-deal Brexit. Teagasc needs to be upfront with winter finishers.

“Winter finishers need accurate costings which are based on the reality of what mart prices are for stores at the moment,” Graham continued.

“In short, farmers need to be told what price they need next spring to make a reasonable return on the work and investment involved in feeding cattle for the winter,” he added.

He also called on Bord Bia to explain “what the options are” for Irish beef if the UK market is no longer an outlet due to no-deal tariffs.

“The uncertainty around the outlook has left winter finishers very worried and many are currently telling us that they just won’t do it,” Graham concluded.