Farm leaders call for Coveney to intervene in beef price row
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.
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.
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.
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.