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Export values fall as we adjust to a `new normal'
The recent Bord Bia figures showed a decline in the
value of Irish food exports over 2018. Various macro
forces were cited as impacting values globally. Trade
discussions that don't directly involve Ireland (the
US and China) as well as those that do (Brexit) have
all contributed to a more testing environment. An
environment of uncertainty that was described as
`the new normal' at the announcement of the figures.
While prices were down, volumes were up. Ireland's
farmers are producing larger volumes of meat and dairy,
particularly, but with values falling, what will that mean
for primary producers?
Despite the continued market diversification e orts of
Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture, Food and
the Marine, the objective of which is to reduce Ireland's
dependency on particular markets and creating more
options for Irish exporters to pick the higher-value
markets, Irish beef exports returned to the UK where
prices were strong. Our dependency on our nearest
market remains strong, and with a no-deal Brexit
looking more and more likely, it raises serious questions
about the impact on trade in 2019.
Exports of pigmeat to China fell 61 per cent in 2019.
However, with domestic production impacted by
African Swine Fever, there must be hope of increased
import demand from our second-largest pigeat market.
Bord Bia and Minister Creed spoke confidently about
Ireland's ability to weather the storms of this `new
normal'.
With Irish farmers already feeling they are being
squeezed by the producers, these figures are a cause for
concern because, as sure as night follows day, falls in
value will pass down the food chain.
FEBRUARY 2019
Upfront
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Tara McCarthy, CEO Bord Bia, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and
Marine Michael Creed TD
Taoiseach's loose talk annoys beef
farmers
The President of ICMSA spoke for us all when he called on the Taoiseach
to pause and consider the negative impact of his comments, in which Mr
Varadkar explained his decision to reduce his personal beef consumption.
Pat McCormack said that people working in Irish farming generally, and
beef production specifically, had every right to expect their Taoiseach to be
respectful of their livelihoods and the multi-billion euro sector they have
built ­ one that Mr McCormack noted that was already facing a potentially
catastrophic Brexit threat.
"I have to say that I thought the Taoiseach's remarks were both unfortunate
and unfair against a background that has primary beef producers operating
o a hopelessly lop-sided grid and really struggling to justify staying
at it. I don't think it was unreasonable of us to expect the Taoiseach of
Ireland to point out that Irish beef is amongst the world's most sustainable
and produced through a regime that's amongst the lowest in the world
for carbon emissions. If the Taoiseach is serious about tackling really
dangerous environment-wrecking beef production, then we look forward
to his announcement that Ireland will veto any agreement with the
Mercosur Group of states that destroy whole regions of South American
forest to produce cheap beef of very dubious standards."
In truth, the beef sector has enough to deal with between lower prices
and the perils of Brexit without the Taoiseach's ill-considered new year
dietary preferences and the EAT-Lancet Commission's daft meat-eating
recommendations adding to their woes.
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