Supply and prices focus of beef forum

  • Minister Creed reiterated that his aim was to secure new export markets for Irish beef.
    Minister Creed reiterated that his aim was to secure new export markets for Irish beef.

Beef prices and the supply of cattle were discussed by stakeholders at the beef forum in Dublin on Thursday.

The need for the financial pressure on beef farmers to ease through an increase in prices was raised by farmer representatives at Thursday’s beef forum in Dublin to meeting chair Minister Michael Creed and meat processor representatives.

“I think the meat industry now realises that farmers can’t continue to produce at low prices. They didn’t say they were going to do anything about it at the meeting, but the penny might be dropping that we are not prepared to do it anymore,” ICSA beef chair Edmond Phelan told the Irish Farmers Journal.

He said that the increasing supply of beef was an issue raised at the meeting and added that ICSA is discussing a potential policy position on a beef supply reduction scheme. “It is not about maximising production, it is about optimising production. There’s no point us producing if there is no market,” he said.

Increasing output was a point commented on by IFA president Joe Healy afterwards. “Growing output alone, without improving incomes on livestock farms is an unsustainable strategy for the Irish beef sector,” he said.

Strong response

Healy called on the Government to mount a strong response at a national and EU level to the challenges that Brexit presents. He said that Brexit has been blamed for the reduction in beef prices and described it as a market disturbance similar to the Russian ban, which justifies action from the EU Commission.

This was the ninth meeting of the beef forum and the second under the chairmanship of Minister Creed. The minister reiterated his aim to secure new markets for Irish produce in a statement afterwards. “Increasing our footprint internationally, we will help to mitigate the effects of Brexit and develop our agri-food sector to realise its full potential,” he said.

After a meeting of the beef forum in July, criticism was raised because of a lack of discussion between stakeholders due to too much time being taken up with presentations. “The format was slightly different and we were able to ask questions about the topics,” ICSA’s Edmond Phelan said.

Unsustainable Prices mean that Beef Industry should Downsize – ICSA

The ICSA President Patrick Kent claims that ‘beef will be the loser’ if things continue the way they are in Europe:

In a recent statement from ICSA president Patrick Kent, he explains that the ‘beef roundtable is going to have to face the reality that we need to think about sustainable downsizing in the livestock trade’, especially since the beef industry cannot deliver anywhere near sustainable prices for beef at present.

“With the uncertainty around Brexit, and the clear signal from the beef processors that they see Brexit and weaker sterling as a reason to cut beef price, it is clear that the FoodWise 2025 strategy of massive expansion of our output (to €19 billion) is now dead in the water.

“We have seen an acceptance by the EU Commission in its report on future trade agreements that beef will be the loser. This vindicates the ICSA position against bad CETA, TTIP and Mercosur trade deals which offer little or no upside for the beef sector,” said President Kent.

The ICSA president also said that ‘meanwhile, the beef industry has failed to deliver benefits to farmers from the opening of the USA market to manufacturing beef’. He added that ‘efforts to open new markets in China and South East Asia, although valiant, have so far delivered nothing in terms of beef price. Hopefully, however, the Minister’s recent missions to North Africa will help deliver more live exports’.

“We cannot escape the reality that the Irish livestock sector is on its knees at present and the only hope is more live exports. However, gains in North Africa and Turkey are not sufficient to compensate for the considerable fall off in Italian live exports.”

Kent’s statement concluded with the following:

“ICSA is also insisting that we need a full review of pricing structures under the grid. The 30-month cut off, weight limits and residency requirements are all artificial and crooked devices to undermine farmer price and must end.”

Beef the big loser in EU trade deals – Report








The report – the Cumulative Economic Impact of Future Trade Agreements on EU Agriculture – analyses the potential ongoing and upcoming Free Trade Agreements (FTA) between the EU and 12 trade partners.

It shows the vulnerability of specific agricultural sectors, particularly beef, towards growing imports following increased market access.

According to the report, the beef and sheep sector will be most affected in terms of trade flows, particularly imports.

Presently, Free Trade Partners account for 88% of the beef and sheepmeat imported into the EU, while these nations account for 36% of European exports.

Under the analysis, the Commission expects the volume of product coming from Mercosur countries to increase strongly, with more than an 80% increase in imports expected from the Mercusor trading block.

Meanwhile, it expects the volume of EU exports to Mercosur countries not to change significantly, hence the trade balance between the EU and the Mercusor trading block will deteriorate sharply.

The analysis carried out by the Commission also shows that EU beef imports could increase sharply by about 146,000t and 356,000t under conservative and ambitious scenarios.

The direct additional volume of EU beef imports creates a direct downward pressure on the EU producer prices, while an increase in the European dairy market is likely to add to this pressure.

The combined pressures on the EU market lead to a steep drop in beef meat prices, -8% in conservative scenario and -16% in the ambitious scenario, the Commission report shows.

The 12 partners involved in the trade deal:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Mercosur
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Japan
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Mexico
  • Philippines
  • Indonesia

 ICSA 100% Against Free Trade Sell Out Deals

 ICSA President Patrick Kent has said that the results in the study vindicates the ICSA position that trade deals currently under negotiation are almost uniformly disastrous for beef and also damaging to the sheep sector.

“Politicians who have been cheerleaders for trade deals really need to read this report and then reflect on what they are supporting.

“We have just seen the consequences in the USA for politicians who have been dismissive of the people impacted most by globalisation.

“A similar pattern will emerge here if the EU Commission, supported by EU politicians, allow our beef farmers to become the EU equivalent of the automotive workers in Detroit,” he said.

He also said that the ICSA has consistently stood against the ‘disastrous’ trade deals being negotiated by the European Commission, as they offer no positives whatsoever for the Irish livestock sector. ICSA is the only farm organisation to be 100% against trade deal sell outs because our members carry all the costs.

Rural communities encouraged to seek help dealing with problems


People in rural communities are being urged to reach out if they are feeling isolated.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) says farmers often have issues with mental health and feel they can’t tell anyone about their problems.

A meeting – organised by the Gardaí and the ICSA – to help people cope with these issues is taking place in Kilrush in Clare tonight.

Rural Development Chairman Seamus Sherlock wants people to know they’re not alone: “Unfortunately in rural Ireland a lot of people think they are the only person with a problem or with a financial problem or a marital breakdown.

“A lot of farmers are very good to look after the animals but they don’t always be as good to look after themselves unfortunately.

“And a lot of people ring me and they are nearly ashamed to tell me they are having problems and what I am saying is don’t be embarrassed, that is what we are there for.

“Reach out, there is loads of help there, but people have to take the first step and look for it.”

Landowners Must Be Compensated Over Water Pipeline – ICSA

MIDLANDS 103 Newsroom – 15 NOVEMBER 2015









A farmers’ group says landowners affected by a proposed water pipeline through the Midlands will have to be compensated.

The ICSA says the proposed development will cause ‘huge disruption and a significant economic cost to farmers’.

The preferred route for a pipeline between Tipperary and Dublin travels along the border of Laois and Offaly.

ICSA Rural Development Chairman Seamus Sherlock says they will be meeting soon with Irish Water’s parent company, Ervia.

IFA’s postion on cattle tag suppliers criticised

AGRILAND – 14 November 2016











ICSA General Secretary Eddie Punch has castigated the IFA for what he regards as that organisation’s incredulous defence of the case for retaining a single cattle tag supplier in Ireland.

And the ICMSA did nothing more than sit on the fence, where this matter is concerned, Punch said.

Moreover, the Department of Agriculture has questions to answer for not moving to open up the market before this, he said.

“The reality is that Cormac Tagging is now a player in the market and has already acted to reduce tag prices. The company’s commitment to offer free replacement tags for at least a year is also worthy of mention.

“At ICSA we believe this should have always been the case, as cattle lose the current plastic tags so easily. The free replacement offer should help concentrate the minds of manufacturers to come up with a more robust tag design.”

ICSA President Patrick Kent agrees and said that the organisation is delighted to see that a company is prepared to stand over its tags by replacing, free of charge, worn tags that it has supplied.

The draconian regime around tag loss puts farmers in a very vulnerable position and ICSA has always believed that replacement tags should be free with certain safeguards to avoid abuse.

“Free replacement tags will put pressure on all tag manufacturers to improve the durability of tags and we believe that this should become the norm.”

“ICSA is also welcoming the new transparency around the ICBF levy which is a voluntary levy. However, this has been hidden from farmers for years and this is the first time that farmers will have a clear choice in whether to pay it or not.”

Kent said that ICSA has resolutely stood up for farmers’ interests on this and the association never bought the line peddled by others that a monopoly was good for farmers.

ICSA promises to tackle ‘Vulture Fund’ Farm Loans


The ICSA Rural Development chairman vowed to help families stay on farms at a recent meeting:

At a meeting in the ICSA offices, ICSA Rural Development chairman Seamus Sherlock announced that the association is committed to helping farmers whose loans have been sold off to vulture funds. At the packed meeting Mr Sherlock said ‘I would like to assure farmers that ICSA will support each and every member in their quest to find a reasonable solution to their financial problems’.

Continuing, Mr Sherlock said that ‘it is important that every angle is explored to find a satisfactory compromise for both sides which will enable the farm to be retained by the farm family’. He added that fire sales and quick fixes will not be tolerated while other avenues need to be considered:

“Every farmer’s position is different and must be handled on a case by case basis. In certain cases selling part of the asset might be the preferred option, particularly for older farmers who may have little or no interest in a long-term restructuring plan.

“For others who wish to remain in the industry, every effort must be made to find solutions in order to facilitate the farm family remaining on the land. This will require fresh thinking and, in certain cases, a long-term repayment plan.”

Concluding, Mr Sherlock wished to reassure all ICSA members that they are not alone and that ICSA will endeavour to work with vulture fund administrators and farmers to find reasonable compromises that will keep the family farming the land for years to come.

ICSA committed to tackling vulture fund farms loans



We believe that the last tranche of loans sold off by Ulster Bank affected 200 farmers, he said.

“For the most part, these were sold off to the capital management company Cerberus. And it, in turn, is working with other similar businesses. So the picture is quite complicated.

“I have already spoken to the Financial Ombudsman on this matter and we have asked for a meeting with the head of the Cerberus operation in Ireland. If this is not granted within the week, I will bring a delegation from ICSA to the company’s front door.”

Sherlock said that the last thing he wanted was a fire sale of the loans now in the hands of Cerberus and the other finance companies involved.

We are getting no end of phone calls from farmers on this matter. In fact, the very use of the term vulture funds sends a shiver down the backs of the farmers involved.

“I would like to assure farmers that ICSA will support each and every member in their quest to find a reasonable solution to their financial problems.

“It is important that every angle is explored to find a satisfactory compromise for both sides which will enable the farm to be retained by the farm family. Fire sales and quick fixes will not be tolerated while other avenues need to be considered.”

Sherlock said that every farmer’s position is different and must be handled on a case by case basis.

“In certain cases selling part of the asset might be the preferred option, particularly for older farmers, who may have little or no interest in a long term restructuring plan.

“For others who wish to remain in the industry every effort must be made to find solutions in order to facilitate the farm family remaining on the land. This will require fresh thinking and in certain cases a long term repayment plan,” he said.

ICSA alarmed at latest developments on live exports

Leitrim Observer – 11 Nov 2016

ICSA alarmed at latest developments on live exports

ICSA Suckler Chairperson, Dermot Kelleher.

ICSA Suckler Chairperson, Dermot Kelleher has expressed deep alarm at news that Cork Marts are pulling out of the calf export business.

“Live exports are urgently needed to get the glut of dairy calves out of the country. Cork Marts was a major player in this business and we urgently need to see these calves exported by someone,” he told the Leitrim Observer today.

The live export of calves was already under pressure with total exports to the Netherlands down from some 43,600 in 2015 to 26,900 in 2016 on a year to date basis and overall live exports in all categories down 25%.

“In recent weeks we have seen again the impact of a glut of cattle. While the industry has pointed to Brexit exchange rate movement, the real problem is that we have had too many cattle slaughtered in the September and October period. In 2016, over this period, average weekly kill is close to 35,000 per week or some 4,000 cattle more per week compared to 2015.

“We have nowhere near enough markets to handle this amount of beef at a viable price for farmers. I intend to meet with Cork Marts in the coming days to try to see what can be done. Meanwhile, we need the Minister to re-double efforts to expand live exports to as many markets as possible.”

Mr Kelleher also called on the Minister to stand resolutely against any rumblings to add further restrictions to live animal transport which is apparently favoured by some EU member states and which is being discussed at next week’s Farm Council meeting in Brussels.

US Election Result Comes as Beef Farmers Redouble Effort Against Trade Deals


IRELAND – The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent has said that Irish and European politicians who favour free trade deals need to pay close attention to the lessons of the US election result.

Donald Trump was elected today to become US President from January after a promise not to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and to come down hard on violations of existing trade agreements.

Some farming organisations supported the TPP, with the Japanese market providing a particular incentive for the beef industry to back the deal. For others, the deal was less welcome, with many echoing the concerns of Patrick Kent that free trade agreements are “pandering to big business”.

Mr Kent explained his objections: “Free trade at the expense of thousands of livelihoods is now reaping its own reward. There is a salutary lesson here for those who think that EU beef farmers can be sacrificed with successive deals on CETA, TTIP and Mercosur. Neither the EU Commission nor its politicians have a mandate to sell out the EU beef sector for apparent gains for multinational corporations.”

“ICSA is ramping up its campaign against hundreds of thousands of tons of cheap beef flooding EU markets which is what will happen if we keep trying to do unbalanced trade deals.

“Meanwhile, we are travelling the world trying to find new markets for beef and sheep, so far with minimal success, and almost all in locations where beef and lamb prices are lower than in Europe. Yet we are conceding ground recklessly in trying to do trade deals to allow more and more imports of cheap beef from all over the world which will undermine an already fragile beef price in Europe.”

“The pandering to big business has got to stop. The EU Commission and all EU and national politicians need to stop looking for excuses and get tough with multinational retailers, food and drink processors and input suppliers who, between them, are driving our beef, sheep and tillage farmers to despair and over the edge.”

Mr Kent suggested the election shows that ordinary people want change and politicians have to “shap up very quickly” to provide it.