Belfast Telegraph

Limavady Show great success but beef price crisis a concern

Air Ambulance fundraisers Harry and Ellie Smyth
Air Ambulance fundraisers Harry and Ellie Smyth
Rachel Armour with her Suffolk sheep
Luke Galbraith and his prizewinning goat
Stephen Crawford
Kile Diamond with cow

By Richard Halleron

Tobermore livestock farmer Robert Miller won the commercial beef championship at this year's Limavady Show with a very choice young bull.

But, in truth, his mind was miles away from the events taking place around him.

"Beef prices have fallen by almost 50 pence per kilo over the past 12 months," he said.

"That's the equivalent of £200 on each finished animal. The beef industry is in crisis.

"Farmers are being told by the meat plants that there is now a waiting period of almost six weeks to have cattle slaughtered. Meanwhile, the costs incurred by all farmers - that's fuel, fertiliser and feed - are all increasing.

"As a consequence, beef finishers are losing money hand over fist. This is an intolerable situation for farmers to be placed in. Something will have to be done to improve the economics of beef production here in Northern Ireland. And the clock is ticking."

Limavady Show sheep steward Ian Mark said that the sector would be decimated in the wake of a no-deal scenario.

However, the threat of Brexit had not put off sheep breeders from turning out in strength, with an entry of 700-plus sheep. The inter-breed championship went to Alistair McNeill, from Toomebridge, with his eye-catching North Country Cheviot ewe.

Judge Keith Campbell said: "She has tremendous presence and a proven ability to rear lambs. What's not to like about that?"

In the cattle rings, the Crawford Brothers team from Co Fermanagh won the beef inter-breed championship with Culnagechan Liberty. She was shown with her calf at foot.

Inter-breed judge Mark Smyth described his champion as an excellent young cow: "The fact that she has been shown with her calf confirms the genuine potential of the cow as a breeding animal for the future," he added.

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