Significant increases in the amount of cattle imported into Northern Ireland from the Republic was a ‘smack in the face’ for local producers.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has criticised processors, after figures showed almost 1,400 prime cattle were imported from the Republic of Ireland (ROI) for direct slaughter in January, compared to just 234 last year.
UFU beef and lamb chairman Sam Chesney said this was why relationships between farmers and processors were often strained, with plenty of high quality, local cattle available.
“Put simply farmers find it hard to trust the meat plants. For many this will confirm that their distrust is fully justified,” said Mr Chesney.
“Farmers have been finding it difficult to book cattle into plants and now we know why.”
He added, they understood plants made commercial decisions but this demonstrated ‘bad faith’ when supply was there.
“Farmers are already struggling with margins and increased imports add to unnecessary queues and depressed prices,” he added.
He encouraged those importing to review their practices and take a ‘longer-term view’ of the importance of their supply base by getting behind local farmers.
The UFU has requested meetings with the meat plants that increased imports of prime cattle from ROI in January 2019.