Farmers at the Irish Farmers Journal mart demo in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, on Thursday night reacted in dismay to the news that the UK is set to open its doors to Brazilian beef.
Tom Bryan from outside Tipperary town. \ Patrick Browne
Tom Bryan keeps store cattle and pedigree Charolais outside Tipperary town:
“[Brexit is] serious, even for the exports to the north. At €2.20/kg or €2.30/kg, you’re not going to make money because the cost of manure and meal and electricity has gone so high.
“Sure meal is €230/t. It’s very hard for young farmers to stay at home - they can get a good job and a good education. I have two nephews and I don’t think they’ll take it on.”
Martin Phelan from Camross, Co Laois. \ Patrick Browne
Suckler and sheep farmer Martin Phelan farms in Camross, Co Laois:
“[Suckling] all depends on what the British do over the next month. It’s hard enough to make money at the current price so we couldn’t compete with Brazilian beef.
"I have survived the last 30 years in farming at current prices, but I don’t see how anyone could stay farming at the price that’s being paid at the moment.
“One of the promises that the Brexiteers made during the campaign to leave the EU was that food prices would be cheaper. If the British bring in a cheap food policy for Britain, our market is gone.”
Tony Doorley from Lacka, Carrig, Birr, Co Offaly. \ Patrick Browne
Tony Doorley is a retired farmer in Lacka, Carrig, Birr, Co Offaly. He works with Dovea Genetics but helps his son on the 80-cow dairy farm:
“We sell most of the bull calves at three weeks. We have the same customer for the last four or five years from the yard - they’d be beef men. Naturally prices are back, we are facing into the unknown at the moment.
“People are living in hope. It may not be as bad as we are expecting it to be, but if it is, it would be a disaster for rural Ireland.
"It has traditionally been a beef country. Beef is very important to the whole industry, not alone to the farmers, but to the factories and the workers and the hauliers and our own company in the AI station.
“The English market is a natural hub for our beef and we’re just hoping against hope that there will be a deal. If they’re to bring their beef from Brazil, what is that going to do for the carbon footprint?”
Ray Dempsey from Roscrea. \ Patrick Browne
Ray Dempsey is a suckler-to-beef farmer and runs a mid-season ewe flock near Roscrea, Co Tipperary:
“It would be very difficult to compete [with Brazil]. I think we are in very uncharted waters where we are at the moment. Nobody knows what Brexit is bringing, there’s a lot of scaremongering going on as well.
“The UK is trying to put pressure on Irish beef farmers to see can they get any support there. No matter what way it goes, hard border or soft border, it’s still not going to be much good for the Irish farmer. We still need that UK market.
"I suppose I’m around long enough to see the wheel going round. At the moment, every young farmer has to look at milk for a living if you want to be a full-time farmer.
“It’s in everybody’s interest that we work together but the attitudes have to change on all sides. If we are to use the beef coming out of the dairy herd, there needs to be a bit more quality and a bit more genetics put into it. We can work together if the dairy farmer produces a quality calf.”
UK plans to open doors to Brazilian beef
Editorial: UK threat to wipe out Irish beef in no-deal Brexit
'Substantial amounts of money' for beef farmers in no-deal Brexit – Tánaiste