Help for fishermen but dairy and beef industries wait for EU market support

Beef finishers have warned they cannot wait for help until the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers on April 27, as base prices for steers and heifers fell this week to 235-240 cents/kg for in-spec cattle.
Help for fishermen but dairy and beef industries wait for EU market support
File image.

Fishing boats. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Fishing boats. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Beef finishers have warned they cannot wait for help until the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers on April 27, as base prices for steers and heifers fell this week to 235-240 cents/kg for in-spec cattle.

Prices for out-of-spec animals are under 300 cents/kg.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden confirmed that many farmers are being turned back by processors who cannot take their livestock.

Bord Bia has confirmed that carcass demand imbalance is a big problem for beef exporters.

It is due to retail demand being mostly for lower value cuts such as mince, diced, or stewing, but low demand for steak.

That leaves processors with much of the steak cuts from each carcase having to go into storage to wait for a market, because the foodservice market is closed down — or selling at steak prices reduced as much as 66%.

Also having a big impact on sales of Irish beef in Europe, according to Bord Bia, is the availability of low-priced South American steak in Europe.

Shipping container availability for exports to Asia remains a big concern also for beef exporters.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 market setbacks, along with cattle mart closures, threaten the vital export trade for over 200,000 calves per year, mostly from dairy farms.

The Dutch market for veal, a crucial outlet for Irish calves, has deteriorated due to closure of restaurants.

In the Netherlands, calf prices declined by €30 per head in a fortnight, as veal producers experienced delays in moving the cattle approaching eight months of age, and ready for veal processing.

Irish calf exports to Spain held up better, possibly because calf sourcing from Italy had been restricted.

There are better prospects for live export of older cattle, with shipments scheduled for Turkey and Algeria in the near future.

File image.
File image.

There have been several shipments to Libya, taking 5,600 animals to-date this year.

A consignment of 2,900 young bulls recently went to Turkey.

A consignment of finished cattle is being assembled for Algeria.

As the dairy and beef industries wait for meaningful EU market support, help for fishermen from Brussels has moved closer.

For most fishing fleets, sales opportunities are extremely limited. Prawn sector markets in the UK, France and Spain collapsed.

For the whitefish sector, the Irish retail market remains open, but many boats are tied-up, on the advice of sales agents. Whitefish processors continue at full capacity.

Imports of seafood, mostly salmon and cod, continue at normal levels.

EU ambassadors have agreed the EU Council’s position on a proposal to help the sector.

Expected measures at EU level include support for temporary cessation of fishing co-financed up to 75% by the EU; support for temporary suspension or reduction of aquaculture; support for storage of fishery and aquaculture products; and increasing eligibility for storage aid to 25% of annual quantities.

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