Ireland has slumped further down EU rankings for cattle prices — even as prices continued to rise in Britain, which takes 40% to 50% of Ireland’s beef production.
The R3 heifer beef price league table (official prices reported to the EC Dressing Specification) provides one of the best comparisons of cattle prices in EU member states.
It shows that the price in Ireland has fallen from 419.2 cent/kg for the week ending July 8 to 385.5c for the week ending September 2.
Irish farmers have gone from getting the second best price in the EU to the ninth best of the 17 member states in the league table.
Over the same period, the price in Britain rose from 431.1c to 437c. Prices have also gone up in the other EU markets which take more than 40% of Irish beef production.
Excluding Britain, Northern Ireland, and Ireland, the R3 heifer beef price in 14 countries went up 3.5%.
The decline in the Republic of Ireland price was blamed for also dragging down cattle prices in Northern Ireland in July.
The Northern Ireland price slipped 10c/kg, from third to fifth place in the league table.
But this trend was arrested in August, with Northern Ireland’s average price relatively steady, falling only 0.7c.
Meanwhile, south of the border, the R3 heifer price fell 14.6c to 385.5c; second only to the August price slump of 19.3c in Greece.
According to IFA, Irish beef processors unfairly exploited farmers’ difficulties due to bad summer weather, making "a grab for short term gains instead of building confidence in the trade".
As a result, farmers have been put under severe financial pressure, with fodder in short supply and rising prices for feed, fertiliser and diesel, resulting in serious cash flow problems.
Under-pressure farmers had to sell and had no choice but to accept lower cattle prices from beef processors, despite reduced cattle supplies in the Irish market; a rising import requirement in Britain; devaluation of the euro givingexporters a 10% higher return from the British market compared to 2011; and a strong EU market price.
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