Meat factories have been accused by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association of having all but shut down the trade for young bulls.
The situation is reaching crisis point, according to ICSA beef committee chairman Edmond Phelan, who said it is not just a case of getting dismal prices — some factories are refusing to kill these animals.
“They’re overhanging the entire trade as a result and dragging down prices for all animals,” he said. “It’s crippling finishers who have specialised in young bulls and the anger is palpable.”
Mr Phelan said the factories are rowing back on commitments they made two years ago, when they actively encouraged finishers to fatten bulls, particularly dairy bulls.
“We were told by the beef barons that there would be a strong trade for these — a decent margin and plenty of demand,” he said.
“But they have changed their tune completely and are now leaving farmers, who switched their focus to bulls, high and dry.”
Mr Phelan warned that beef and suckler farmers will abandon the sector and switch to dairying or even contract rearing in the hopes of making a decent living.
“The factories need to seriously rethink their strategy and the way they treat their suppliers if the industry is going to survive, let alone hit expansion targets,” he said.
Mr Phelan said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney must also recognise the danger and act very quickly to avert a crisis.
“If he fails to tackle this disastrous situation, Food Harvest 2020 will be dead in the water as regards beef.”
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