September 29, 2003



Export Refunds Can Boost Irish Beef


A decision by the EU Beef Management Committee in Brussels could improve export refunds, boosting Irish beef sales to Egypt.


EU Commissioner Fischler had indicated to Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh that he will put extra and improved subsidies back into place, following the recent Egyptian decision to relax restrictions on Irish beef imports.


The Egyptians still cannot afford to pay the full EU price for beef, and Minister Walsh is seek extra EU subsidies. Egypt was Ireland's largest market for beef in 1999, taking more than 150,000 tonnes, worth € 254 million.


But Irish beef was included in a ban on European beef introduced by Egypt after the BSE crisis in 2000.

Egypt resume its beef trade with Ireland in October 2001. But trade in commercial volumes had been hampered by Egyptian rules on the type of eligible cuts, until last week's easing of these rules.

Mr Walsh told last Friday's Agricultural Science Association annual conference in Kilkenny he remains committed to rationalisation of the beef industry, and he hopes it will be done in a way that respects competition policy and improves competitiveness.

He praised the industry for moving to earlier finishing of cattle, in response to additional opportunities on the British market. But he expressed dissatisfaction with cattle price trends. "Such market developments should be reflected back in producer prices, by way of rewarding the quality producer".

"Not only should the pricing system reflect the needs of the market, particularly in terms of quality, it should also include a level of transparency and clarity that engenders the full confidence of the farmers who supply the primary product," he said.