Beef farmers have described the planned shipment this week of cattle to Turkey as a major opportunity for the Irish livestock sector.
IFA president Joe Healy said Turkey needed to import up to 400,000 head of live cattle annually. In 2015, Turkey imported 380,000 head of cattle, the bulk from South America and up to 120,000 from France.
“A strong live trade is essential to maximising competition and to put a solid floor under weanlings this back end,” said Mr Healy.
“IFA pushed hard to get the market open and has been working with exporters and the Department of Agriculture to facilitate this trade. We are hopeful that this shipment will be followed by many future shipments.”
Meanwhile, ICSA beef vice chairman Edmond Phelan said the export of heavy bulls over 550kg to Turkey will help counteract factory efforts to drive down beef prices. He said heavier bulls were now a focus for Turkey.
“At prices of up to €2.20/kg liveweight, this trade will mean factory prices for bulls are not competitive and farmers should look very carefully at their options in terms of feeding these kind of cattle,” said Mr Phelan.
“While a lot of talk has been about the lighter weanlings, this is potentially a much more beneficial development in terms of getting cattle out of the country and getting some real competition into the beef trade in the immediate future.”
The ICSA has also said efforts to open beef markets in China, US, and elsewhere, while useful in the long term, are not delivering benefits to farmers.
“We want to see more support for the live trade from the minister because this is the only show in town to deliver badly needed relief to hard-pressed cattle farmers,” said Mr Phelan.
“I’m calling on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his department to make sure this boat is passed immediately to help stop the blatant opportunism by the meat industry to use the recent inclement weather to savagely reduce prices.”
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