In welcoming the optimistic outlook for beef in 2012, Michael Guinan, the new Chairperson of ICMSA’s Beef and Cattle Committee, said that the consensus of all experts is that farmers can expect strong prices for all categories of livestock in 2012.
Mr Guinan commented, “Farmers are now operating in a more positive environment but that progress is coming from a very low base over the last decade and we should also acknowledge that we operate in an increasingly volatile market strongly influenced be outside factors - such as the current economic crisis. Policymakers cannot ignore this fact”, said the new Beef Committee Chairman, who farms at Rahan near Tullamore.
“With EU beef production projected to continue to decline up to 2018, we must now set out our strategy to ensure that the maximum possible price is passed back to beef and cattle producers. The changing EU beef supply balance will provide opportunities for the Irish beef and cattle sectors and it is ICMSA’s view that new market opportunities will arise for both beef and live cattle of all ages. It is the responsibility of An Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine to ensure that Irish beef and cattle have access to these markets under reasonable conditions and it then is up to our industry to avail of these market opportunities,” he continued.
“The improved prices of 2011 have brought a renewed confidence to the beef sector and it is quiet clear from Bord Bia analysis that finished cattle numbers in 2012 will be down between 50-80,000 head meaning that meat plants will have to compete for cattle and that farmers should be able to dictate to a greater extent the prices at which they sell their cattle.
“With the number of 18-30 month cattle down 129,000 head on 1 October 2011, it is quite clear that meat plants will find it more difficult to source cattle,” noted Mr Guinan.
Mr. Guinan said that, in addition, overall EU beef production is expected to fall by 3.2 percent in 2012 and there will be more market outlets available to our processors.
In that context, he urged farmers push their meat plants hard on price. In addition, farmers should seek to sell their cattle on their terms and he specified his belief that the overly-complicated beef grid needs to be simplified and made amenable to the fact that an increasing proportion of Irish beef will come from the dairy herd.