Evidence presented by Bord Bia at last night’s meeting of the beef forum suggested that the current euro/Sterling exchange rate is worth some 50c/kg to exporting Irish meat factories, according to Henry Burns of the IFA.

He said it is clear from Bord Bia’s presentation to the Minister, farmers and factories at the meeting, that cattle prices should rise to reflect the much stronger returns from our largest export market.

Burns said winter finishers are in a ‘loss-making situation’ and described this as ‘unsustainable’.

“Bord Bia pointed out to the meeting that the average Irish/UK price gap for 2015 has widened to 82c/kg and is currently well over €1.00/kg.

“The meeting was also informed that this compares to an average of 27c/kg over the 10 years from 2004 to 2013.

Bord Bia also pointed out that the exchange rate with sterling of 10% more favourable for Irish exporters this year, which is worth over 50c/kg,” he said.

‘No explanation’

According to Burns, when questioned at the meeting neither the factories or Bord Bia could provide any valid explanation on the widening price gap between Irish and UK cattle prices.

“Minister Coveney must take action and address the real issue of competition, particularly in light of recent developments for more mergers and acquisitions in the beef processing sector,” Burns said.

In addition, he said Minister Coveney has to be much more active in supporting the live export trade and securing access to our nearest and highest priced market in Northern Ireland and Britain.

“It is utterly unacceptable that Irish livestock farmers are being denied price competition through the manipulation of EU labelling rules by processors and retailers,” he said.

Market access

Burns also said the IFA also raised important issues on market access, trade deals and climate change at the Beef Forum which was chaired by Minister Coveney.

He said the Minister promised again that there will be a breakthrough for Ireland on access for manufacturing beef to the US market and on access to China for Beef early in 2016.

On Producer Organisations, Henry Burns said IFA made it clear to Minister Coveney that any new legislation must provide flexibility to ensure that both small and large groups of farmers can operate, marts must be fully accommodated and supported to act as PO’s and there must be adequate funding to prime and support groups, particularly in the start-up phase.