Processors should talk with farmers

Failure of communication from beef processors to cattle farmers has been highlighted by Beef Activation Group chairman Michael Dowling, at this week’s beef roundtable meeting.
Processors should talk with farmers

He said carcase discounting by processors through the second half of 2013 for a very limited number of cattle outside market specifications fuelled farmer perceptions that the pricing system is more complex and less transparent.

“All processors should commit to better, and more regular, communications with suppliers on market requirements and developments,” said Mr Dowling.

“There should also be regular information on individual slaughter data, including information on factors which prevented maximum value being obtained for the animal in question.”

“Any proposed adjustments to the system based, for example, on new or more strict application of market demands, should be clearly communicated to suppliers in a timely fashion which takes reasonable account of the normal production cycle.”

Teagasc, Bord Bia, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, Animal Health Ireland, and possibly, the universities should co-ordinate to ensure that research and advisory strategies effectively reflect market realities as they evolve, and should feed into quarterly ministerial/departmental meetings, he said.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney complimented the Beef Activation Group chairman for his “extremely comprehensive” report to the beef roundtable, and said he decided to publish the report to allow the industry parties present to reflect on the recommendations — which also included that some incentive be put in place to deal with the retention of BVD infected cattle on farms, and a recommendation that Government efforts to open third country markets, including the US, for Irish beef, should continue.

Mr Dowling said live exports will continue to be an option providing alternative market outlets for farmers.

“Agreed advice to be given publicly each autumn on the likely cost of overwintering for the coming period might be useful to producers in making purchasing decisions for winter-spring supply,” said Mr Dowling.

He called for a more accurate comparison of the UK and Irish beef trades than simply comparing the British R3 steer price with the equivalent Irish price.

“Maximising grass utilisation should be possible through higher stocking rates, with an increased number of animals being brought to slaughter at earlier ages and lighter weights. Pressure should be brought on financial institutions to advance credit for herd expansion or for breed conversion,” said Mr Dowling.

* A temporary ban on imports of beef from Ireland to Russia has been reported, due to failure to meet Russian veterinary requirements.

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