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Clare Beef Plan is concerned about aspects of the proposed new Protected Geographical Indication status for suckler beef. Photograph by John Kelly

Beef Plan welcomes extra competition from live exports


THE first live export of 600 beef cattle by a new beef producers’ group has been welcomed by Clare Beef Plan.

Half of the shipment, which went from Belview Port in the South-East to Algeria recently contained cattle that were sourced under the Emerald Isle Producers’ Group.

They included R and U grade 16 to 24-month old bulls and heavy steers as well as some R grade Hereford and Angus cattle.

This sale involved a deal with a shipping company that has a contract in Algeria.
Pat Nagle of Clare Beef Plan said this was a very welcome development as anything that reduces the number of cattle going the system was positive.

He said it is hoped there will be several more live shipments through the Emerald Isle Producers’ Group (EIPG) among others.

He said this shipment suited heavy carcasses, which were not suitable for factories. Commenting on the sale of overweight cattle in the factories by one farmer, he said he only received only €3.20 a kilo and would have received much more if the same cattle were sent on a ship.

He noted that EIPG has secured a contract to export various different categories of weanlings, details of which are available from Clare Beef Plan.

“At a time when it is difficult to get cattle killed not to mind a good price, it is a welcome development. Factories are suggesting there isn’t a demand for beef with the closure of pubs and restaurants their only outlet is supermarkets and they are using this to curtail prices.

“Live exports may not be ideal but they are the only way of ensuring some competition in the marketplace.

“The big issue for Irish beef is the question of labelling that looks like Irish produce and beef imports that are causing difficulties for the market,” he said.

Emerald Isle Producers’ Group chairman, Eamon Corley said organising a shipment of this scale is a huge logistics job for the group as it involved organising 20 lorries to transport the cattle to the port.

“When cattle are normally exported live they tend to be Friesians and poorer quality beef animals.
“These animals were from the top drawer. There were various mart managers, cattle dealers and people who were used to cattle being exported who said the quality was exceptional,” he said.

Mr Corley revealed the group plans to get involved in other shipping companies to sell other types of cattle.

The Department of Agriculture had to approve the sale, which involved completing additional documentation that had to be signed off by a vet.

All the cattle who went on the ship had to have passed a recent TB test, which meant a few farmers had to organise testing a few days before the ship was set to sail.

When the ship returns in about two weeks, it is expected that the group will source more cattle for a second shipment.

“This deal involved a lot of organisation and hoops that have to be gone through.

“This is a major breakthrough because every farmer believes there is a cartel in this country. We have had a lot of new enquiries over the last week.

“This sale is extra competition for meat factories, which can only improve the beef trade.
“It is attractive for heavy steers and 16 to 24-month old bulls that would normally have their price cut in the factory.

“The man that runs the ship was very impressed with the quality of the cattle we supplied and with our efficiency.

Emerald Isle accounted for over half the cattle on the ship, which is a huge achievement for a new producer organisation. This is the biggest sale achieved by the group in one week.

“We have been sending cattle to factories since last October. We have a deal with one factory and we are in negotiations with other factories,” he outlined.

Dan Danaher

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