Commenting on current beef prices, the Chairperson of ICMSA’s Livestock Committee said that while there were some signals of stability returning to the prices farmers received, there was still a huge degree of resentment around what Des Morrison described as the “completely mysterious slide” in prices that occurred through February.
Mr Morrison said that his association estimated that the slide had costs farmers in the region of €8.5 million over just that month and he said that this episode now joined the lengthening list of mysterious and unexplained sudden downwards turns in farmer beef prices.
“Obviously, most attention is fixed on current prices and likely movements in the near term. But that still leaves many of us no wiser as to what happened prices over the four week-period through February when something of the order of €8.5 million was cut from the prices paid to farmers who were already losing money.
We’ve never had any kind of rational explanation and that’s why ICMSA would like to take this opportunity to ask MII or any individual beef processor to explain what happened there?”
Mr Morrison said that the lack of farmer confidence in the sector was palpable and had reached the stage where the factories themselves must see that future year-round supplies were no longer guaranteed.
He said that the lack of transparency or any kind of rational explanation for sudden and inexplicable price slides set against entirely predictable and comparable numbers meant that farmers’ suspicions had hardened into a general acceptance that factory prices were set at the whim of executives always looking for a reason to cut.
“That is the suspicion and the only way of allaying that is for the factories to explain their rationale and logic when they decide to cut as quickly and deeply as they did in the four weeks of February.
That’s our challenge to MII or anyone else that wants to take it up. We’re nearly three weeks on, so it must be clear now what the ‘chain of evidence’ was and whether it was justified. Let’s hear it. Because in our view that series of price cuts was not justified”, said Mr Morrison.
On current trends, the ICMSA Livestock Chairperson said that beef prices continued to move ahead in our main market with UK with steer prices now in and around 450c/kg.
Irish prices now need to move upwards to reflect market improvements and provide some level of short to medium-term confidence for beef producers, concluded Mr. Morrison.
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