Stronger action at EU and government level is required to address the ongoing income challenges in the beef and sheep sectors, says Longford IFA county chairman, Sean Conefrey.
Mr Conefrey said a policy framework must be developed with the aim of returning viable cattle and sheep prices as well as increased targeted direct payments, which, he added, were essential to maintaining confidence in the sector.
“Technical efficiency is very important inside the farm gate, but getting the national and EU policy right for a profitable sector at farm level is absolutely essential,” said Mr Conefrey, before pointing out that viable price returns to farmers were possible from the market provided there was a fair share out of the retail price across the chain.
“Cattle prices in the range from €4 to €4.50/kg are essential to cover the cost of production on the most efficient farms, and leave a margin, while on lamb prices, mid-season prices need to be in the order of €5-€6 to €6/kg.”
The local farming chief went on to say that market demand for beef was strong and export market prices, particularly in our main market in the UK also remained very strong.
“Cattle numbers will be much tighter than originally forecast due to increased live exports and lower carcase weight,” he added.
“Beef markets are in a strong position and there is no basis for any pressure on cattle prices. In addition, live exports are performing very well, up 45%, with 140,000 head exported to-date this year.”
On Brexit, Mr Conefrey said Minister Creed and the Department of Agriculture must keep farming and the agriculture sector firmly at the top of the Government and EU agendas.
In addition, he said beef and sheep farmers relied very heavily on direct payments for their income and Minister Creed must demand an increase in the CAP budget in Brussels. “Direct payments must be protected and increased for suckler cows and sheep, in line with the proposals from IFA,” Mr Conefrey concluded.