Irish beef farmers are losing €2 million (£1.83m) every week after weaker sterling hits exports to the UK
The UK was Ireland’s most important market, with the UK importing 170,600 tonnes of Irish beef in 2016, or 70 per cent of all imports.
But the fall in sterling has impacted cattle prices in the Republic of Ireland.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has demanded ‘urgent action’ from the Government to tackle what it called the ‘sterling crisis’ for beef farmers and mushroom growers.
IFA president Joe Healy said the crisis can no longer be ‘brushed aside’.
“Since April, the UK beef market is up 7 per cent. As our most important market, this should be good news. The problem is sterling is down 8 per cent in the same time period,” he said.
Mr Healy called on the Irish Government to demand the CAP Crisis Reserve fund be used to provide direct support to farmers, secure direct support at EU level for affected producers through CAP Market Support measures and request an increase in EU State Aid De Minimis limits to target support at the mushroom sector.
He added the Government ‘must’ provide funding support at a national level in its Budget 2018.
In Northern Ireland, beef prices have also been falling and Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has accused processors of trying to take advantage of farmers struggling with poor weather.
More cattle have headed to processors, with many farmers choosing to sell rather than keep cattle housed much earlier than usual.
UFU beef and lamb chairman Crosby Cleland said the attempts of local processors to drop prices were out of step with improving conditions in Great Britain.
“Northern Ireland beef is largely being sold at premium prices on the shelves of the big UK retailers so there is absolutely no reason why processing companies here cannot return beef prices comparable with those in Great Britain.
“The fact they are currently unwilling to match prices being paid in GB shows a lack of commitment from processors to support their supply base,” he said.