National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Importing slaughter cattle from the ROI damages NI’s economy as well as beef farmer’s incomes.

10th October 2012

Region: National

National Beef Association members in Northern Ireland are reeling in shock after confirmation that 14.6 per cent of the Province’s prime cattle kill during the last week in September was imported from the ROI where stock is around £50 a head cheaper – and as a result local average prices fell at the same time as those elsewhere in the UK continued to rise.

“We just cannot believe that we are looking at a £140-£150 a head price gap between the average weight R4L steer carcases we produce here in the Province and those sold by fellow members on the mainland,” explained the Association’s NI chairman, Oisin Murnion.

“Our two most predatory processors are once again showing they cannot resist being motivated by short term gain - instead of being long sighted and working with farmers to establish a beef sector where the market price exceeds the production cost and there is a much better chance of all participants enjoying a measure of economic comfort.”

At the end of last month the GB average for R4L steers rose by 1.3p to a record 356p at the same time as the NI average for exactly the same type of cattle fell by 0.6p to just 314p.

And, says the NBA, this was no accident because that same week exactly 1,443 cattle were trucked in from the ROI which means that for every six animals of NI origin processed one from the South, which was £50 cheaper, was thrown into the pool to further raise processor margins.

“This is a short sighted act of avarice. NI processors sell much of their beef onto the mainland and as a result already benefit from the £147 per head discount on NI cattle,” said Mr Murnion.

“But for those that truck in stock from the South, which we must stress does not include ABP,  it appears that even a £147 a head purchase cost advantage was not enough so they made sure they could take some beef off cattle that were cheaper by fully £200 a head as well.”

“During a Stormont debate earlier this week which, among other things, covered the price differentials between cattle produced in GB, NI, and the ROI, it was noted that beef farmers like ourselves were collectively losing £1 million a week in market income as a result of the NI discount.”

“It was also said that profitable livestock farming is the foundation for future economic development in the Province which makes it important that livestock farmers received a fairer price for their product.”

“So the NBA maintains that not only its members, but the economy of the Province as a whole, would be much better off if importing companies gave up bringing in live cattle from the South and paid prices that were much closer to mainland levels for NI cattle instead, “ Mr Murnion added.

For more information contact:
Oisin Murnion, chairman NBA Northern Ireland.
Tel: 02841 765082