After a year of beef round table meetings and relatively high cattle prices, farmers’ attitudes to the beef industry have changed little.
The 2015 Irish Examiner ICMSA farming survey shows them unwavering in their belief that boosting live cattle exports is the best way to improve the beef farming sector.
Asked what might improve the prospects of Irish beef farmers, 59% ranked increased live exports as the most important measure.
That compares with 60% last year, and once again, the other suggested measures — investigation of competition in the beef industry; abolition or complete overhaul of the QPS Beef Grid; or improved technical expertise of beef farmers — don’t get much of a look-in in farmers’ attitudes.
This despite beef industry being aired in continuing round table meetings presided over by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, and better 2015 prices expected to boost incomes 20% in cattle finishing and and 30% in suckling.
With farmers so wedded to live exports, the figures that show live exports to July were down 20% (15% for calves, 48% for weanlings and stores, and 2% for adult or beef cattle) must be taking the gloss off the 2015 prices, which are up 17% this year for a 380kg carcase, and up 16% for a 550kg store animal.
The question on attitudes to the beef industry was put to all 569 farmers in the survey.
The only response that seems to be affected by another year in the beef industry seems to be in the attitude to unfair practices in the beef industry.
This year, an investigation of competition in the industry is rated most important by only 13%, compared to 20% last year.
There’s a marginal increase from 7% to 11% in those who rate improving the technical expertise of beef farmers as most important.
But the survey shows conclusively that if you want to impress Irish farmers, boosting live cattle exports of our cattle is the surefire way to popularity among the three our of four who depend on the beef industry for some of their earnings.
According to IFA, increasing live exports us op there with the 30-months age limit for prime cattle , monitoring of carcase trim at the meat plants, market transparency, and cattle residencies among the main issues.
In July, Minister Coveney said he will continue to pursue opportunities for exports of beef and live cattle at every opportunity.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved