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Stackyard News Jan 05
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Beef producers urged to set a price line

Finishers in England who are giving up their slaughter cattle for less money than those on offer in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) are being urged by the National Beef Association to stiffen their sinews and not let their animals be discounted so harshly.

It says Irish prices have dragged well behind those in Britain for years and immediately before Christmas the R4L steer average was bumping along at basement levels of 165p-168p while in England it was at least 10p-15p higher and Scotland enjoyed another 11p-12p extra.

" But that has changed since Irish feeders made up their minds that the only way to react to decoupling was to set a price line and not give in by selling anything below that," explained the NBA's chief executive, Robert Forster.

" In the ROI a target of 198p was set and as a result of determined resistance to abattoir pressure to send in cattle for less the price has jumped by more than 30p per kilo in just three weeks and is hovering around 196p and could rise further."

" In contrast prices in the English Midlands are lagging 15p behind and they look even more dismal in the South West where the MLC has confirmed a gap of almost 18p - or just short of £60 on a 330kg carcase."

" Now that beef farmers are no longer supported by direct subsidy they can only make a living if they take more income from the market and to do this they must be much stronger sellers."

" They should set a target of 200p for the end of the month and then lift the bar higher. They should be in no doubt that slaughterers who are buying cattle for £50-£70 a head less than other parts of Britain and Ireland can afford to pay much more."

" They won't offer more money if they can get cattle easily and so finishers across the Midlands and the South should not take the first price they are offered and hold their animals back until their value is in line with those being sold elsewhere," Mr Forster added.

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