CHAIRING his first meeting of the Beef Forum last week, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD, commented that ‘it is not realistic to expect the Forum to solve all of the issues of the market place, but there have been a number of significant achievements already.’
The eighth meeting of the Forum focused on the current state of the beef market and the outlook for the remainder of 2016 and the implications of last week’s proposals from the European Commission on climate change. It also included presentations from ICBF on latest developments in genomic evaluations and from the Department on implementation of the national Clean Livestock Policy. Minister Creed also announced his intention to establish a meat implementation group, with representation from stakeholders, to focus solely on the implementation of the meats sector recommendations in the Food Wise 2025 strategy.
During the meeting, IFA president Joe Healy made it very clear to the Minister that the post-Brexit negativity and price cuts by the meat factories were excessive and undermining confidence in the sector. He emphasised to the Minister that, to be effective, the Beef Forum has to work for the whole sector and that means it must deliver for farmers as well as for others.
The IFA President said the meat factories had overhyped the Brexit result and taken advantage on cattle price. He said beef industry commentators had suggested that the Sterling devaluation was 16% and some even went as far as 25% “This was totally incorrect and the facts are the Sterling adjustment is 7%. In addition, UK beef prices have increased by 10p/kg since Brexit.”
He said the increase in UK cattle prices and the correct Sterling adjustment would change UK returns by only 8c/kg and not the severe price cuts of 25 to 30c/kg factories have imposed.
Mr Healy called on the factories to stop the negativity and the price cuts. He told Minister Creed it is vital that confidence is restored and maintained at farm level.