Pressure on beef prices set to force suckler farmers out of business

WEANLING prices are back between €100 and €150 on this time last year, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association.

Suckler committee chairman Brendan McLaughlin believes the current pressure on beef prices from factories will result in many suckler farmers going out of business.

“However, it’s not just factories and processors that are to blame. Supermarkets seem to have all the control when it comes to setting prices and it’s about time that something was done to combat this,” he said

Mr McLaughin said suckler farmers cannot afford to produce store cattle at the current prices that are being paid in the ring.

It costs on average €500 over the year to keep a suckler cow. Weanling prices should not be below €750 if the farmer is to have any chance of earning any kind of return.

“If you have 100 suckler cows you would want to be earning €380 per cow in profit to make the average industrial wage.

“Weanlings in that case would have to be making €880 on average across the board,” he said.

Mr McLaughlin said severe budget cuts to farmers are impacting heavily, particular in the drystock sector.

Cuts to disadvantaged area payments, REPS and the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme to name just a few will all hit home this winter.

“I believe it is time for suckler farmers to start finishing their own cattle, especially when barley and other straight feeds are good value for money,” he said.

Mr McLaughlin advised farmers would also advise them to look at their cow numbers for the coming year and possibly consider cutting them back.

“If that doesn’t work, we will have no choice but to get out and there won’t be a suckler industry left in this country and, as a result, no cattle for Irish finishers. That in turn will put meat processors out of business,” he said.


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