Attempts by meat factories to take advantage of the difficulties farmers experienced this spring have been strongly criticised by Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) livestock chair Declan Hanrahan.

“Some farmers were forced into earlier and expensive finishing of beef cattle due to the weather conditions in the spring and factories are now attempting to take advantage of these farmers by dropping the price.

"This approach is unacceptable and must stop,” he said.

He said the EU market is expected to push on as supplies tighten and demand increases for beef over the summer months.

The UK market remains very strong and is almost 70c/kg above our price.

Production in both the UK and EU is projected to be below last year's levels, and as seasonal demand increases, beef prices will have to move on creating real opportunity for factories to pass these back to farmers.

Tight supplies

All of this points to extremely tight supplies of finished cattle for the remainder of the year, Hanrahan said.

He said if the Bord Bia projections are correct for the remainder of the year Ireland is looking at over 70,000 fewer cattle between now and year end compared to last year.

He also said the strong performance of live exports this year will also reduce supplies for factories. Store and finished cattle exports to date this year are up 7,000 and predicted to grow further.

Strong demand

Northern Irish buyers are currently very active in marts and are driving the trade for forward store and finished cattle.

“Farmers should strongly resist attempts by factories to reduce the price. Demand is strong and factories are very anxious for cattle despite the negative propaganda from the usual sources.”

He said prices of 5c to 10c/kg above quotes are freely available, bringing base prices for steers and heifers to between €5.10 and €5.25/kg despite lower quotes. Cow prices remain strong ranging from €4.30 to over €5.00/kg depending on grade.