Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 18 November, 2004

Written Answers. - Beef Industry.

  153. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agri[1540] culture and Food the extent to which output in the beef production sector has increased or decreased here in the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29621/04]

  Mary Coughlan: Irish beef production figures for the past ten years are set out in ’000 tonnes carcase weight equivalent in the table below:

Year

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Production

400

436

565

579

591

626

555

568

511

560

Beef production peaked at 626,000 tonnes in 1999. In this context suckler cow numbers increased from 624,000 in 1990 to 1.2 million. This shift in production was driven by the demand for better quality beef on the higher value EU markets. These markets now absorb some 83% of total beef exports.

The EU beef market is now in deficit and this creates additional opportunities for Irish beef producers and processors to consolidate and grow a greater share of this high value market. With the removal of technical restrictions relating to coupled payments farmers will in future choose to produce beef based on the returns available in the marketplace. This will make more transparent to Irish producers the market value of beef production.