Beef farmers are being hit with “indirect” price cuts from factories, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) has warned.
ICMSA livestock chair Des Morrison said that while there has been a lift in beef price recently, farmers are losing out due to factories' “over fussy” application of the grid where over- and under-fat cattle are being penalised.
He said certain factories are also re-imposing weight limits above 420kg and that there are minimum weights with stiff penalties outside these specifications.
Morrison highlighted that factories have dropped flat pricing for farmers who wish to avail of this option, that breed bonuses have also been reduced in some cases and that age limits are being applied in a stricter manner.
“It is encouraging to see that beef prices are improving, but they are still at a much lower [level] than earlier this year and these reductions will have a very severe impact on beef farmer incomes in 2023.
“Despite this week’s improvements in prices, meat processors continue to impose cuts indirectly based on specifications and grids that are applied at different levels and rates depending on the level of cattle supplies and factories’ requirements at a specific time,” said the ICMSA livestock chair.
Morrison said these actions from factories are creating substantial cuts to beef prices for issues that a few short months ago would generally not have impacted in any significant way the price received by farmers.
The ICMSA called on farmers to get “very clear and unambiguous” quotes from their processor before sending their cattle and to clarify the position in relation to weights, conformation and fat scores, breed bonuses, age and quality assurance bonuses.
Morrison said that farmers should “shop around” for quotes, because the price received for a particular type of cattle can vary considerably from factory to factory.
“All this takes time, but it could be well worth it in terms of the final value received for your animals that you have bred and reared for a number of years,” he added.