The IFA has announced that it will host an online meeting on Tuesday 9 March at 8.30pm for beef farmers, highlighting the seriousness of “unjustified factory prices”.

President Tim Cullinan said that the latest market price information justifies a beef price increase.

The Bord Bia price tracker shows the prime export benchmark price increasing by 4c/kg to €3.80/kg, while the prime Irish composite price dropped by 3c/kg to €3.68/kg.

“Farmers are very angry at the cynical and unjustified price cutting that has gone on over the past few weeks,” Cullinan said.

“Our beef processors must increase prices in line with the positive market conditions that exist for beef as clearly shown in the export benchmark price which reflects the market prices in our key UK and EU markets for beef.

Tight supplies

National livestock chairman Brendan Golden highlighted that market conditions are strong in key export markets and supplies of finished cattle are extremely tight.

“Steers are making €3.75/kg and heifers €3.80/kg this week, with higher deals for larger lots and increased breed bonuses available despite lower quotes from some factories.

“Farmers should continue to reject the lower quoted prices to maximise returns. Cow trade is starting at €3.00/kg for P grades and moving to €3.50/kg for better quality R and U grading cows. Young bulls are ranging from €3.60 to €3.85/kg.

Bord Bia predict the numbers of cattle available for processing to reduce by between 60,000 and 80,000 for the year and UK supplies of prime cattle are projected to be down 5% for the year.

Hold cattle

Meanwhile, ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has called on farmers to hold back cattle from factories where possible.

“Current prices of €3.70/kg are not remotely acceptable from a winter finishing perspective. However, there are signs that the trade for beef is strong and that there is no reason for farmers to accept current prices.”

“The difference between Irish and UK prime beef price is at its widest since October 2018, illustrating that farmers here are being ripped off.”

ICSA has said that there is no reason why beef prices won’t increase significantly in the coming weeks if farmers resist right now.

“Do not sell cattle at €3.70/kg unless absolutely necessary as you will almost certainly regret it. Those farmers that must sell should do so through the marts.”