Irish beef prices are running 13c/kg behind the Bord Bia beef export price tracker, IFA livestock director Tomas Burke told over 200 farmers at an online meeting on Tuesday night.

He highlighted the positive sentiment in the market over the last two weeks.

He stated that European beef production is predicted to be back by 2% in 2021, with the UK predicted to be back by 5%.

This, coupled with the fact that Ireland is predicted to slaughter 60,000 to 80,000 fewer cattle in 2021, is a positive for beef finishers, he said.

The beef market tracking tool on the Bord Bia website shows that the Irish composite price is currently behind the export benchmark price by 13c/kg.

The price differential between Ireland and Britain is running at 56c/kg and, with Ireland sending over 46% of our exports to the UK, questions were also asked as to who was getting the €200/head difference in beef price.

IFA president Tim Cullinan gave an update on the beef taskforce and expressed his disappointment at the lack of detail contained in the Grant Thornton reports to date.

“I’m absolutely stunned at the fact that we are just not able to get the detail on where the margins are in the beef supply chain,” he said.

“The food ombudsman has to be put in place immediately by the minister to bring some order to the industry.”

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden told the meeting that the IFA is continuing to lobby for a €300 targeted standalone suckler cow payment.

“The suckler cow needs that support, especially in the west of Ireland. We can’t all go milking dairy cows,” Golden said.

Questions were raised about the IFA’s participation in the taskforce but the resounding sentiment was that the IFA was better placed by staying in to try to effect change.

A number of contributors drew attention to what they called “disgraceful tactics” by beef factories to cut prices in recent weeks while all the market signals were going in the opposite direction. Farmers were encouraged to sell hard in the coming weeks as cattle supplies continue to tighten.