An increase in cattle price is the metric upon which farm organisations will measure the outcome of the first meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce.
Speaking after the conclusion of the meeting on Tuesday afternoon Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president Joe Healy said a cattle price increase was put on the table from the start.
“The meat factories' representative accepted the facts verified by the Bord Bia beef price index, that market prices have increased and cattle prices should increase in the short-term," Healy said.
"The IFA demanded an immediate and significant price increase, and highlighted the anger of farmers that factories had held back on justified price increases over recent weeks," he added.
We have seen the gap between Irish and UK beef prices grow by about 20c/kg since July, a gap that is costing Irish farmers very significantly
Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack said it was stated at the meeting that the market upswing must translate into an improvement in prices paid to farmers.
McCormack said the Bord Bia beef price tracker clearly shows markets where Ireland sells beef have moved in a positive direction, justifying an improvement in Irish beef price.
“We have seen the gap between Irish and UK beef prices grow by about 20c/kg since July, a gap that is costing Irish farmers very significantly and again highlights the massive frustration of farmers who see markets improving but their price static.
“This situation cannot continue and we need an immediate positive response from [Meat Industry Ireland] MII members.”
“This is the very first day and this is the very first test. We will know whether we’ve a real forum for progress here or just another ‘talking shop’ and for the sake of the Irish beef industry, it had better be the former," McCormack concluded.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Edmond Phelan has said momentum was shifting towards a beef price increase in the wake of the Beef Market Taskforce meeting.
Phelan said: “The pressure on processors to move on price is unrelenting and justifiably so. Farmers who are not under pressure because of age limits should be holding out for a price rise as it is unlikely this pressure can be withstood.”
Macra na Ferime president Thomas Dufy said comments from the industry during the talks around loss of value to Irish beef from weak sterling exchanges were no longer an excuse for low prices.
“We have seen significant increases in the UK steer price in the last month. Irish price needs to follow suit with these increases,” Duffy said.
A number of other issues were discussed at the meeting which began at 9am.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said: “I am delighted that a meeting of the taskforce has now taken place.
"The taskforce will provide for a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in the agreement.
"I appointed a very experienced and able chair person in Michael Dowling to lead this process. It is imperative that the entire sector works together to secure the future of Irish beef."