Anger building as penalties bite and prices cut by 5c/kg
Another 5c/kg slide in factory quotes is piling further pressure on farm leaders grappling with increasing resentment among beef producers about the state of their industry.
Despite heated scenes at an IFA meeting last week, beef processors continue to cut prices by doubling up penalties on non-quality assured (QA) stock and slashing quotes for up to 40pc of the autumn steer kill by imposing deductions of up to 15c/kg on overage animals.
Steers over 30 months are being hit with 10c/kg deductions, while animals over 36 months are being penalised by 15c/kg.
If these same animals are from non-QA herds, they are now being hit with an additional 15c/kg penalty - on top of the automatic 12c/kg deduction for non-QA stock. Bord Bia estimate that nine out of 10 cattle being presented for slaughter are now from QA farms.
However, Bord Bia's Joe Burke believes that up to 40pc of the steers being killed during the autumn period are over 30 months. The fodder crisis of spring 2013 is likely to push this figure even higher this year.
"The age issue is a big one out there at the moment," said Mr Burke. But he said that it was not surprising that quotes for out-of-spec steers were falling to levels similar to cull cows.
"The likes of McDonalds and other blue-chip contracts will insist on QA only beef in their burgers so the outlets for these older non QA steers will not be much different from the markets open to cull cows," he said.
The beef specialist added that so-called prime cattle could fall as low as cull cow prices when there was a surplus, as happened 12 months ago when young bulls were making similar prices to cull cows.