Meat factories are unfairly pulling beef price quotes on the back of the referendum result, even though they are hedged against currency volatility, said IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods.
Speaking at the Beef 2016 forum in Teagasc Grange, Co Meath, Mr Woods said demand for beef from UK supermarkets is strong, with prices up 2p/kg in the past week as UK numbers of finished prime cattle remain tight, while the weekly kill in Ireland dropped.
“Farmers should strongly resist the factories’ price cuts, which are unjustified,” he said.
“Rather than try to exploit the post-referendum situation, they have a responsibility to reflect the strong market conditions in the UK and maximise the return to producers.”
He said market access for Irish beef is unchanged and demand for product continues to strengthen. He said the factories’ opportunistic use of market access as an excuse to lower prices does not reflect the reality in the UK market place.
Mr Woods said the Beef Forum, which is to meet in the next fortnight, must give clear direction to farmers.
He also said the factory price cuts ignored the fact that half of Irish beef exports go to other European and international markets.
Meanwhile, thousands of farmers at Beef 2016 were told production efficiency improvements in suckler farming systems could deliver substantial increases in profitability.
Teagasc beef enterprise leader, Dr Eddie O’Riordan, cited grass production and its utilisation, animal performance and stocking rate as the four main variables influencing the profitability of suckler beef enterprises.
“Increasing grass production requires good soil fertility and perennial ryegrass dominant swards, while a good farm paddock system and grass budgeting tools will increase pasture utilisation,” said Dr O’Riordan.
“To maximise animal performance, good fertility and reproductive performance is required, with the objective to produce one calf per cow per year. The breeding policy must also aim to maximise live weight gain.
“Economic analysis of suckler calf-to-beef systems in Grange has shown that, where individual
animal performance is high, stocking rate is the key driver of profitability.”
Teagasc experts also outlined blueprints for efficient dairy calf-to-beef systems. The number of dairy calves going to beef production has risen markedly due to the increase in the national dairy cow herd.
Pearse Kelly, head of the Teagasc drystock knowledge transfer department, said: “Various production systems can be employed on dairy calf-to-beef enterprises depending on the breed type, gender and finishing system.
“The most successful systems are those that optimise animal performance from grazed grass and achieve a high proportion of total life time gain from grazed grass.
“Profitability is vulnerable to increases in concentrate input costs and calf purchase price, as well as the selling price of beef.”
One highlight at Beef 2016 was the grassland village, with its grass reseeding demonstration of different establishment methods for reseeding pastures and grazing system displays on how to set up a simple paddock system with water, fencing and roadways.
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