IFA president Joe Healy has outlined beef forum priorities, saying its next meeting due in the next fortnight "must provide clear direction and certainty for beef farmers in relation to our most important export market, both in the short term and the long term."

He also accused meat factories of unnecessarily pulling beef price quotes on the back of the Brexit referendum result, even though they are hedged against currency volatility. Factories are paying prices of €3.95/kg and €4.00/kg this week for steers and €4.05-€4.10/kg for heifers, reflecting the tightness of the market and are 5-10c above what has been quoted."

The impact of Brexit on farmers is to be addressed by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed when he meets with the IFA executive council for the first time on Tuesday 19 July.

Income crisis

The farm income crisis is also to be discussed at the meeting, with Joe Healy saying it would be very clearly outlined the financial pressure farm families are under this year as a result of lower prices, higher costs and reduced direct payments.

He added that immediate action is required on State aid for low cost credit to all sectors, full draw-down of the farm schemes, inclusion of the additional €25m for ANCs and new €25m Sheep scheme in this October's Budget, 70% payments advance, retail regulation and trade deals.

The IFA president said urgent action is needed by the Government to provide low-cost short–term loans to alleviate cashflow pressures and reduce the high cost of merchant credit, adding that the EU agriculture council has already given the go ahead for this state aid in this area.

Cattle prices

On the topic of beef, IFA livestock chair Angus Woods warned against using the referendum result as a lever on price, saying market access for Irish beef is unchanged and demand for product continues to strengthen, while beef exporters would have been hedged against currency movements. “Using market access as an excuse to lower prices is opportunistic and does not reflect the reality of what is available from the UK market place.”

“The UK market is heavily dependent on supplies of Irish beef to meet consumer demand. It is vital that our processors take full advantage of the strong market conditions to protect farmers. The current markets conditions in the UK, driven by tight supplies and strengthening prices, put our beef processors in a strong negotiating position to protect returns to farmers.”

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