Speaking at a meeting of cattle producers earlier this week, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) national livestock chairman Angus Woods said they had “been savaged financially over the last year” by Brexit-related price cuts. “These farm families have major financial bills with banks, merchants and others and they cannot be left hung out to dry,” he said.
According to IFA calculations, Irish farmers have experienced losses of €101m between 1 September 2018 and 23 March 2019. IFA calculated the losses based on comparing pre-Brexit cattle prices in 2015 to the very low prices farmers received in the autumn of 2018 and the winter/spring of 2019. For steers, heifers and young bulls, prices were based on the official Bord Bía-reported R3 price. For cows the O3 grade price comparison was used. Department of Agriculture weekly cattle numbers at the meat plants and average carcase weights were used in the calculations.
Woods called on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to address the losses. “Minister Creed needs to make the beef issue and the Brexit losses his priority at the EU Farm Council in Brussels and at the Cabinet table in Dublin.
“We have met with the officials in the Department of Agriculture and the EU Commission and they accept that Irish beef farmers have incurred significant Brexit beef losses. Farmers expect that they will honour the commitments they have made over the last number of months. They must now convert these commitments into real delivery and cover the Brexit losses farmers have already incurred to date.”
Last week, IFA president Joe Healy called for a beef sector policy shake-up. Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, he said current beef strategy “wasn’t effective” and needed an overhaul.