Price cuts — when it rains, it pours
By JIM CARNEY
CO. GALWAY I.F.A. have come out fighting against what they claim is an attempt by meat factories to cut cattle prices and use the recent bad weather as an excuse.
This is happening at a time when farmers are very busy and factories are finding it difficult to get cattle — having to pay 5-10c/kg over quoted prices to get numbers.
County I.F.A. livestock spokesman James Donnellan strongly criticised the factories last week for “taking advantage of the difficult weather conditions to pull beef prices. They were talking down prices and undermining confidence in the trade, when it was a fact that prices in our main export market, the U.K., remained strong at the equivalent of over €4.50/kg. Also, the exchange rate improved in the last week.”
Mr Donnellan, from Dunmore, went on to say that despite scare tactics by the factories on their inability to sell beef, cattle supplies remain tight. Retail prices in the U.K. were up 5.9 per cent, with purchases up 0.1 per cent for the 52-week period to mid-May.
“Last week, factory bosses were linking increased numbers to a major price cut. Then they tried to hit prices on the back of bad weather. All negative signals from the factories.”
The I.F.A. at national level are lobbying Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to redouble his efforts to re-open the live export trade to the Middle East and North Africa.
More bad news for farmers: the I.F.A. national Grain Committee estimate that this year’s bad weather has reduced crops’ yield potential by at least 300,000 tonnes. A combination of heavy rain, below normal temperatures and low sunshine levels have taken a serious toll on Winter wheat and Spring barley yields.
If there isn’t a major improvement in the weather, the growing season will turn into “a salvage operation,” say the I.F.A.
An M.E.P. for the West, Jim Higgins, is campaigning in Brussels to have harvest insurance extended to producers who lose 30 per cent or more of their harvest due to the bad weather.