Farm lead­ers call for Coveney to in­ter­vene in beef price row

Irish Independent - Farming - - Front Page - Dar­ragh McCul­lough and Joe Healy

FARM lead­ers have called the Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Si­mon Covene, to in­ter­vene and halt the on­go­ing slide in beef prices.

The move fol­lows the lat­est at­tempt by the beef fac­to­ries to pull prices for both in-spec heifers and steers be­low the €4/kg bench­mark.

Quotes for heifers this week are at €3.95/kg, the low­est for heifers since au­tumn 2012. Steers quotes have also edged down this week to just un­der €4/kg.

The price drop has hap­pened against the back­drop of IFA protests out­side key meat pro­cess­ing plants around the countr y l as t Wed­nes­day. The or­gan­i­sa­tion claimed that 1,500 farm­ers pick­eted plants at Clonee, Co Meath, Granagh, Co Water­ford and Ne­nagh, Co Tip­per­ary.

Its lead­er­ship has now de­manded that Min­is­ter Coveney gets off the side­lines in this deep­en­ing dis­pute.

“The min­is­ter needs to bring in the meat fac­to­ries and chal­lenge them on their com­mit­ment to pay­ing a vi­able cat­tle price to farm­ers,” said IFA pres­i­dent Ed­die Downey in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

DE­RAIL

He claimed that cur­rent cat­tle prices had the po­ten­tial to to­tally de­rail the Food Har­vest 2020 plan.

“It is not ac­cept­able to farm­ers that Min­is­ter Coveney would con­sider that he has no role with the fac­to­ries on cat­tle prices,” he said.

Heifer prices are at least €50/hd lower than this time last year, while the IFA claim that bull fin­ish­ers are fac­ing losses of up to €200/hd.

While prices tra­di­tion­ally be­gin to rise at this time of year, ad­di­tional stock that were held back from the live e xpor t trade two years ago are sig­nif­i­cantly in­creas­ing sup­plies at the fac­tory gate.

Last week’s kill of 31,491hd keeps the weekly kill at least 1,000hd ahead of 2013 lev­els. Jan­uary fig­ures were up even more, at 9,671hd more than last year. Steer num­bers were up by 5,185hd, heifers were up by 4,172hd and cows were up by 4,708hd. The young bull kill was back by 4,527hd.

Some in­dus­try ob­servers pre­dict that it will take another five months for the ad­di­tional s tock to clear through the sys­tem.

Com­ment­ing on the lat­est cuts, ICSA beef chair­man Ed­mond Phe­lan said that it was a new low to see cat­tle prices fall­ing at a time when costs are high­est.

SIG­NAL

IFA live­stock chair­man Henry Burns said farm­ers were get­ting a strong sig­nal to re­vert to live ex­port­ing their dairy bull calves to avoid dam­age to the beef price.

He also ac­cused the meat processors of un­der­cut­ting each other in ex­port mar­kets.

Mr Burns has high­lighted the strength­en­ing of Ster­ling against the the Euro over the last week, which he claims is worth an ex­tra 10c/kg to the meat processors.

DE­FEAT

Mean­while, a mo­tion to change the r ul es r el at i ng t o t he el ec t i on of Glan­bia board mem­bers was de­feated at an ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing (EGM) of the co-op last week.

The pro­posed change would have pre­vented can­di­dates for board elec­tions from stand­ing again for three years if their se­lec­tion was not rat­i­fied by the co-op’s gov­ern­ing coun­cil.

The mo­tion needed a two-thirds ma­jor­ity to be passed, but failed by a hand­ful of votes to get the re­quired sup­port.

It was re­ported that around 225 share­hold­ers at­tended the meet­ing, which was held in the New­park Ho­tel, Kilkenny on Fri­day last.

The mo­tion was sup­ported by 63.6pc of those present or al­most 145 share­hold­ers, with 36.4pc or close to 80 share­hold­ers vot­ing against.

Last year, two board mem­bers, Bren­dan Hayes from Water­ford and Robert Pren­der­gast from Bar­row­vale, were not rat­i­fied as board mem­bers by the Glan­bia coun­cil even though they had won elec­tions to the board in their re­spec­tive re­gions.

The pair were among four board mem­bers to op­pose the Glan­bia de­merger pro­posal that led to the es­tab­lish­ment of GIIL.

In other Glan­bia news, a Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged milk sup­ply ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in­volv­ing a well-known GIIL sup­plier is con­tin­u­ing. Nei­ther the Depart­ment nor Glan­bia would com­ment on the pro­grees of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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