According to Bryan, “a major national effort” is needed to help the farmers recover and get back on track, after the worst weather conditions on record over the summer affected feed production.
Bryan said: “Thousands of livestock and dairy farmers are facing a winter with inadequate feed, and those who have managed to save enough will incur extra costs as a result of poor quality. Escalating fuel and feed costs are already pushing production in many sectors into a loss-making situation.”
Additionally there is a back-up of major work on farms, with a large proportion of harvest still to be done. Slurry tanks are also still full from last winter because of adverse travelling conditions, giving farmers a lot to think about in addition to low feed and high prices.
The challenge now, said Bryan, is for everyone supporting the sector to do everything possible to ensure farm families can get through the next few months.
He added: “The government, banks, processors, merchants and Teagasc will have to put their shoulders to the wheel to rebuild confidence among primary producers.”
Bryan also committed the full resources of the Association through its 945 branches and 4,000 voluntary officers towards helping farm families who, inevitably, will find it difficult to cope over the coming months.
Part of the plans to help farmers include the establishment of a national project team, which will be headed by the IFA’s deputy president Eddie Downer and the regional vice-president Jer Bergin, among others. Project teams in every county executive region will also be established to identify the problems as well as helping to find solutions.
Prices for Irish beef have been slashed in recent weeks, causing anger amongst farmers. At a recent meeting in Dublin, Bryan said that farmers were very busy on the ground and not prepared to part with stock at the prices being quoted.
IFA national livestock chairman Henry Burns said supplies have tightened quickly and “agents are desperately looking for stock for later in the week and are buying and killing cattle on the same day”.
He said: “The facts speak for themselves and Irish prices can rise, based on UK prices of €4.50-€4.60/kg and EU prices of over €4.00/kg and rising.”
According to Burns the change in the weather, along with a factory kill of 28,000 per week, strong demand, UK and EU price rises and other factors meant farmers can raise beef prices to reflect the true market returns.
Bryan also said that a number of factories had increased their kill days and had increased prices paid for steers up to €3.90/kg. Heifer prices had also risen due to tight supplies, with some plants paying a base of €4.10/kg this week.