A glut of cattle at the year end will lead to pressure on prices, it was predicted at a meeting of the Dáil select committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
However, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, said many live export markets are open including Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Serbia, Algeria and recently Turkey. “We need to be careful not to talk down the price of cattle”, he said.
Mr Creed accepted that open markets do not mean that cattle will move because a whole series of variables needs to fall into place.
For example, the price for cattle must be right, currency fluctuations must be favourable and boats must be available, he said. He said his department is key in the licensing of boats and insists on the highest standards in respect of animal welfare.
“The bad publicity associated with an inappropriate incident could quickly close down the live exports market. We have the highest standards and nobody complains,” he said.
Saying the challenge now is for the industry to step in, Mr Creed said he appreciated there must be a margin for industry players.
He said his department will work with the industry to facilitate the export of the maximum possible number of cattle because that safety valve is needed to ensure the maximum return for beef producers.
Labour TD Willie Penrose said the animal Identification and Movement database signals that 80,000 or 90,000 extra cattle will come on stream in the autumn.
Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill said the opening of markets was welcome but beef farmers will not have confidence until they see cattle moving.
“Unfortunately, once the kill goes over 30,000 heads, the factories will do what they always did and try to trample farmers into the ground. We do not have to talk down prices; it is being done for us by processors,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved