Session one of the IGA Beef conference at Kells, Co Meath, saw speakers from the Irish Farmers Journal and Bord Bia, looking both within and outside the farm gate.

Ciarán Lenehan set out to find €500 of additional net profit per cow on a 40ha farm carrying 45 sucklers, slaughtering 42 beef animals annually at a carcase weight of 350kg on average.

By utilising 2t more grass, calving heifers at two-years-old versus three-years-old, hitting reproductive targets from a national average baseline and selecting milkier suckler cows, an additional figure of €455/cow was obtained, demonstrating the potential that exists in the country.

In conclusion, Lenahan said that even if €250/cow was found through improvements in technical efficiency, it would be the equivalent to this theoretical farm achieving a beef base price of €4.87/kg for bullocks, taking in today’s price of €4.10/kg.

Brexit fears

Bord Bia’s Joe Burke, gave the crowd a synopsis of the potential effects of Brexit on the Irish beef industry.

He stressed the need for successful trade negotiations between the UK and EU, highlighting the damming fact that if no deal was made there would be a revert to WTO rules, meaning tariffs. The maximum potential tariff on carcase beef at current rates would be €1.76/kg.

However, Burke also pointed out some positives surrounding the reduction in Australian beef and cattle supply creating more opportunities for Irish beef around the world and the fact that British retailers have acknowledged the importance of traceability, quality and food safety – something that Ireland consistently delivers for them.

There will be further reports from IGA conference on as well as in this week’s Irish Farmers Journal.

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