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Opening of US Beef Market Must Improve Returns to Farmers

Jan 5, 2015 | Press Releases | 0 comments

5th January 2015

ICSA president Patrick Kent has given a guarded welcome to the news that Ireland has secured beef access to the US market. “This could be a very important development for hard-pressed beef farmers, provided that the meat industry and Bord Bia market Irish beef as a premium product with a view to improving returns to farmers,” he said.

“However, farmers will remain sceptical given the ruthless downward manipulation of prices by the meat industry over the past twelve months. They are still waiting to see concrete benefits from previous announcements of new markets.”

“Ireland should be ambitious in its plans to attract a significant share of the US market, given our reputation for producing premium beef through predominantly grass-fed systems, and we also have the added advantage of a receptive market in the 40 million Americans who claim Irish heritage.”

“This new market opportunity must bring an improvement in prices if it is to be taken seriously,” he reiterated. “Ireland’s grass-fed systems should be at the heart of the marketing of our beef in the US, and maintaining the viability of these systems must now be a key priority for the Minister. The fact that US beef farmers are getting €4.53/kg for R3 equivalent steers suggests that we have the potential to export significant quantities of Irish beef at a higher price than that which obtains at present.”

“There still remains a concern as to the negative impacts from a potential quid pro quo under the TTIP negotiations”, cautioned Mr. Kent.

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ICSA Beef chair Edmund Graham has called on the new Food Regulator to pay special attention to the takeover of Kildare Chilling by Dawn Meats which he said has devastating implications for competition for both beef and lamb. “Farmers have lost all faith in the CCPC which has nodded through this takeover. The reality is that a factory that many farmers depended on to sell cattle and lambs at a fair price is now under the control of one of the big two. This will not be a good outcome for farmers.”

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