Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president, Joe Healy, has warned that there is rising anger among cattle farmers over 'severe beef price cuts'.
“Farmers are being thrown overboard on cattle prices and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, is allowing a combination of the Brexit exchange rate crisis and opportunism by the factories to push all the price cuts down on top of farmers,” he said.
Mr Healy said the IFA will meet Minister Creed next week to discuss the issue.
"Farmers will be expecting urgent action from him to halt the factory price slide and restore some confidence to the trade as we head into the peak autumn kill," he said.
As part of IFA’s campaign, county chairmen and livestock representatives, along with feeders, will be meeting with factory management at local level around the country to highlight the anger at the price cuts and demand that confidence be restored in the trade.
IFA National Livestock chairman, Angus Woods, said that, based on the sterling depreciation, Irish beef farmers are losing close to €2m per week.
"Since April, the UK beef market is up 7 per cent. As our most important market, this should be good news. The problem is that sterling is down 8 per cent in the same time period. When the UK election was called, sterling was at 85p:€1. It had been at, or close to that level, in previous months. Today it’s 92p:€1. The impact on the price of beef is about 15c/kg."
The IFA said that it will be demanding delivery from Minister Creed on the following issues to alleviate the income crisis at livestock farm level. It says the Minister must:
· Call on the factories and insist that they stop the price cuts and restore confidence to the livestock trade;
· Demand that the CAP Crisis Reserve fund and Market Support measures be used to provide direct support to farmers in response to the Brexit exchange rate crisis;
· In Budget 2018, secure additional support for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme of €25m for a bolt on welfare element worth €50 per suckler cow;
· Secure increased funding support to increase payments for the Areas of Natural Constraint to €230m;
· Deliver low-cost loans, available to all sectors of farming, including the mushroom sector;
· Ensure that there is competition in the beef trade through a combination of a strong live export trade and demand that the CCPC insist on a properly functioning market;
· Prioritise the live export trade and secure further live export contracts for the autumn to Turkey and other markets;
· Demand that beef be excluded from any EU market access offer on Mercosur; and
· Honour the commitment made to appoint agricultural officers to monitor carcase trim, classification and weights at meat plants on a daily basis.