Base quotes static but €4.25/kg can still be pocketed
Beef farmers don't often see themselves in the same bracket as public sector workers, but I'm sure they share the civil servants' desire for a 2pc pay-rise. Unfortunately, the base price hasn't moved much, with €4.20/kg being the common offer for steers. At most, €4.25/kg has been secured.
There are still a few plants especially in the South sticking hard to a base quote of €4.15/kg. Farmers in this region need to hold tough or threaten to travel as €4.20 is pretty freely available as you move up the country.
The general quote for heifers is at €4.25-4.30/kg and while the €4.30/kg is buying a significant amount of the heifers, a number of plants have paid a base of €4.35/kg to secure deals. The bottom line is to put in a bit of work, price a few factories and do a bit of bargaining before you agree on a deal.
A few plants have paid a flat price of €4.25/kg for mixes of young U and R grade bulls. Individually, the Us are being quoted for and paid at €4.20-4.30/kg with the Rs at €4.20/kg in the main. Some O grades are making €4.05/kg, with others being bought at €4/kg. A few plants might be quoting less but very few underage O grades are bought below the €4/kg mark.
A slight improvement from some of the plants for the quotes for the lesser grade cows might be taken as a positive sign. Demand for cows remains strong with the top lots making up to €4/kg. R grades are selling between €3.80-3.90/kg. Prices for the Os range from €3.60-3.70/kg in general, while the P grades are making from €3.55-3.65/kg. One factory man did mention to me that a sizeable number of under-fleshed cows are being offered for slaughter and warned against this practise.
He didn't think that there is any fear of prices collapsing in the short term and was anxious to advise farmers to hold onto their cows and feed adequately to get them to a proper fat score before killing them.
The IFA's Henry Burns said that both farmers and factories know that supplies are tight and prices should increase over the next few months.