Live cattle exports up 31% in 2018 - Bord Bia
Adam Woods attended the Bord Bia meat marketing strategy update in Naas, Co Kildare, on Friday and gets an update from Joe Burke on what the state of play is.

Live cattle exports are up 31% to 246,000 head when compared with 2017 levels of 187,000 head exported.

Calf exports saw the biggest rise in 2018, up by 55% to 158,000 head.

The biggest mover was Belgium, which saw cattle exports from Ireland rise from 5,525 head in 2017 to 13,549 in 2018.

Spain also saw growth of 83% with 92,495 head of cattle exported in 2018, an increase of 42,000 head on 2017 levels.

Dairy herd influence

The influence of the dairy herd is increasing and shaping the breed make-up of our national cattle herd.

Friesian-registered calves have increased by 2% in 2018, while Aberdeen Angus and Hereford have grown by 2% and 4%.

This is in contrast with continental beef breeds, which have seen a drop in registrations in 2018.

Limousin-sired progeny are back by 4%, while Charolais are back by 6%.

Belgian Blue-sired cattle have taken the biggest hit, with a drop of 15% recorded in 2018.

The only continental breed to buck this trend was Simmental, showing a 4% increase in registrations in 2018.

Carcase weights

Beef supplies were up 3% in 2018.

However, weather and the growing influence of the dairy herd had an impact on carcase weights, with steer weights back by 2.9kg, heifers by 1.5kg and cull cows by 5.6kg.

Young bulls saw an increase in carcass weight of 2.8kg.

Animals were slaughtered on average two weeks older in 2018 and weather is thought to have been the main driver of this.

Ireland wasn’t the only country to have an increase in beef supply, with UK slaughterings up 2.1%, France up 2%, Italy up 2.9% and overall EU cattle supplies up by 1.7%.

The forecast for 2019 is for a slight decline in EU beef production by 1.7%.

Export value

Irish beef exports were valued at €2.5bn in 2018, a rise of 1% on the 2017 figure.

Export volume was up by 3% to 573,000t, meaning value growth has lagged behind volume growth.

Fifty-two percent of Irish beef exports went to the UK, 44% to other EU markets and 4% to other international markets.

In terms of global consumption forecasts, it’s a positive story, with a 1.5% forecasted increase in beef consumption in 2019.

On the world stage, Brazil, Argentina and the USA are ramping up exports, with imports into the EU from Brazil up 40% on 2017 levels, while imports from Argentina were up 22% on 2017 levels.

For more live updates from the Bord Bia conference, stay tuned to farmersjournal.ie

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Watch: meat markets to improve later this year – but Brexit lies in between

Beef and dairy bosses demand Brexit action from Creed
Imposing tariffs on exports would "cripple trade", meat and dairy factory representatives have warned.

Beef and dairy bosses braced for a hard Brexit have handed a list of demands to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

With 65 days remaining to salvage a Brexit deal, the nightmare scenario of a no-deal is becoming ever more likely.

A delegation including Aurivo’s Aaron Forde, ABP’s Martin Kane, Larry Murrin of Dawn Farms Foods, Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland and Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland, met with Minister Creed on Tuesday.

Dairy co-ops want dual British-Irish status for Northern Ireland milk, export refunds and other trade supports. They called for a freeze on tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit and direct income aid for farmers.

Meat factory representatives warned that if tariffs are imposed on exports to the UK “it would cripple trade”, with the additional danger of sterling devaluation in a no-deal outcome.

They called for extra resources to ensure speedy border checks and increased ferry capacity and routes for direct shipping to the continent.

While European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan reassured farmers Brussels is poised to swoop to their aid, a Commission spokesman confirmed a hard border is inevitable unless the British reach an agreement with the EU or delay their withdrawal.

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No-deal Brexit to add 21c/l in cheddar processing costs

EU 'stands ready' to support farmers - Hogan
European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has assured farmers that Europe is planning for all possible outcomes from Brexit negotiations.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has moved to reassure farmers that the EU stands ready to intervene in markets to protect prices in the event of a hard Brexit.

“We have to prepare for the worst. The European Union stands ready to help Irish and EU farmers in the event of a hard Brexit,” Commissioner Hogan said, addressing a crowd of more than 250 farmers at the Kilkenny IFA annual dinner dance on Saturday night.

“We have the tools ready to intervene, including Aid to Private Storage, intervention and a revision of state aid rules,” he added.

Slow

His words will help give farmers comfort that, while Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has been slow to commit to supports, plans for a safety net at EU level are well advanced.

Hogan reassured farmers that the EU is ready for all scenarios, but warned that the Government must also be ready and ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure products can continue to move through ports.

Gloomy

While a no-deal Brexit paints a gloomy picture, vice president of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness is reminding farmers that it could be avoided if a deal is reached between the EU and UK. But, she says, plans are being put in place to deal with a no-deal scenario.

“There are deep concerns about the consequences,” McGuinness told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“We will need to be looking at how you are going to support a vulnerable sector, that will call for money.

"All of those things will have to be discussed in the short period of time before the United Kingdom leaves.”

Lamb prices rocketing ahead
The trade for all types of lamb is strong currently boosting farmers' confidence in the sector.

Factory agents are scouring the country in the hunt for slaughter-fit lambs.

Prices have hardened significantly over the past number of weeks.

Farmers are securing €5.25/kg to €5.30/kg, with specialised feeders negotiating in excess of €5.40/kg for lambs.

The mart trade is booming for all types of lambs currently.

Fleshed factory-fit lambs are selling over €120/head, with €125/head common for lambs weighing over 50kg.

The store lamb trade is on fire, with prices of €2.50/kg to €2.80/kg and higher being recognised for hill-bred lambs.