Mixed fortunes for beef farmers

Profits may be up for beef finishers, but suckler producers are continuing to feel the pinch, according to the latest figures from EBLEX.

The organisations Business Pointers publication, due out in October, has shown costs for the top third intensive and extensive finishers at, respectively, 1.25/kg lw and 1.41/kg lw of beef produced.

However, Lowland suckler costs for the top third are around 1.81/kg lw and Less Favoured Area (LFA) suckler herds 2.41/kg lw, leaving producers struggling.

EBLEX chair John Cross said: I think the message is that beef producers are moving towards profitability, but there is a distinct difference in conditions for suckler herd producers and for finishers. In the last year we have seen significant spikes in the cost of fertiliser, feed prices and energy charges, which have affected everyone. However, there have been improvements in technical efficiency that are very encouraging.

He said these figures were just headline statistics, released before the publication of the full report: When we analyse the full figures, we will be able to see where most improvements can be made and so tailor our Better Returns Programme activities accordingly.

The news was welcomed by the National Beef Association. Kim-Marie Haywood, director of the NBA, said: Reviewing the figures at this early stage clearly indicates that farmers have made great inroads into improving their fixed cost efficiencies and marketing cattle into the right outlets, s

The figures for finishers show the fruits of the efforts being made by producers to improve their technical performance, helped by initiatives like EBLEXs Better Returns Programme.

But to have a sustainable beef industry, every type of enterprise needs to make a profit and that is simply not the case at the moment.

She called on processors and retailers to do their bit and help producers to turn a profit and build the long-term future of the sector.

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