The future for winter finishers looks bleak, with a no-deal Brexit becoming a serious possibility, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) beef chair Edmund Graham has warned.
Finishers have been left without any certainty on prices or markets, Graham said, adding that tariffs of €740m were looming in the near future.
“Beef finishers need the full facts as to how this will affect their business. Yet the meat industry, the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and Teagasc have had little to offer in the way of help or advice,” he continued.
He called on factories to start making plans for forward contracts with fixed prices.
“Farmers could end up broke if they tie up substantial levels of capital in feeding cattle at high daily costs over the coming months, with no guarantee of a return,” he said.
Farmers needed clear figures from Teagasc on winter finishing costs, based on current store prices with sensitivity analysis to account for a no-deal Brexit, he added.
“Winter finishers need accurate costings that are based on the reality of what mart prices are for stores at the moment. In short, farmers need to be told what price they need next spring to make a reasonable return on the work and investment involved in feeding cattle for the winter.”
Graham added that Bord Bia also needed to explain what the options were for 260,000t of beef if the UK market becomes non-viable in the event of tariffs.
“The uncertainty around the outlook has left winter finishers very worried and many are currently telling us that they just won’t do it,” he concluded.