Irish beef prices must hit €6/kg to deliver a return for farmers with the recent increase in input costs, as neither the Government nor the EU has stepped in with an appropriate support package for beef farmers, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

The group’s beef chair, Edmund Graham, has criticised Irish processors for not matching the quotes set by factories on the continent, citing a €6/kg German beef price.

He stated that €5/kg is now insufficient to cover the costs associated with producing beef.

“ICSA has been warning for months that beef prices must hit the €6/kg mark if farmers are to have any hope of coping with seriously inflated input costs,” said Graham.

“€5/kg is no cause for celebration when it doesn’t cover your cost of production, and if farmers in Germany are achieving €6/kg, that is what we must demand also,” he added.

No justification

The beef chair went on to say that Irish farmers were experiencing the same cost increases as European beef farmers.

Processors have not attempted to close this gap between Irish and EU average beef prices, he added.

“There is no justification for prices here lagging so far behind what our European counterparts are getting for their beef.

“We are facing the same price hikes in feed, fuel and fertiliser as they are, but unlike them, we are not seeing any serious effort by processors here to increase prices to a level that adequately reflects the soaring cost of production,” said Graham.

The situation facing dairy farmers has been different, he continued.

“All the while, we are seeing the dairy processors bending over backwards to support their suppliers through these difficult times. The meat industry needs to do the same - and do it quickly - if they have any interest in ensuring their own suppliers can stay in business.”

No support package

Graham finished his remarks by stating that higher prices were needed as no emergency support package had been announced for beef farmers in light of the recent input cost hikes.

“The reality is that neither the EU nor the Government have come up with any financial package for Irish farmers to support unprecedented cost inflation.

“There is therefore no alternative except price rises for the primary producer to reflect the increased costs and it is clear that this will require €6/kg for beef. Both processors and retailers are going to have to deal with this reality unless they want empty shelves,” he concluded.