Quite a few people are of the opinion that our former Taoiseach should have been locked in the cupboard after he completed his nixer recently. Well, more than a few farmers are very anxious for the processors, or indeed anybody, to come out of the cupboard or closet, or anywhere, and clear up the base price issue.
A farmer I spoke to yesterday told me that he had got a base price before he sent off his cattle only to be told after they were killed that the base he was quoted was for underage animals and that all of his were overage.
He was of the opinion, like so many others, that one of the very few positives of the quality payment system was that the base figure was the same for all animals within that particular category (ie, steers in this case) and that the bonus for the underage stock was the quality assurance premium. Explain please, somebody.
There isn't a lot of movement in quotes or prices at the moment but the good news is that the little bit that is evident is positive. Donegal has improved its prices for the in-spec R and U grades by 6c/kg to 316 and 325c/kg respectively.
Dunbia appears to be next best for under-30-month steers at a base of 300c/kg but are quoting as low as 290c/kg for the older steers.
So allowing for the QA bonus, this leaves a 16c/kg gap for similar grade cattle but of differing ages.
Much the same can be said of Kepak Clonee where its overage base quotes for heifers are shy of the 302c/kg it is offering for the younger types. Reports suggest that Liffey Meats also falls into this category, while word has it that Dunbia is not interested in quoting for older cattle from non-quality-assured farms. This beggars the question, what bonus does it stand to get from the older stock from quality-assured farms? Elsewhere, in the northeast, heavy overage R and U grades were said to have made a flat price of 302c/kg.
The general run of quotes for the steers is in the 294-295c/kg area, with heifers at 300-302c/kg. If you are selling, make sure you contact a few plants as they are quite anxious for stock and are willing to deal at levels in excess of quoted figures. The quotes mentioned above are to be got from the AIBP, Dawn and Kepak plants, and Kildare, Slaney, Roscrea and Duleek.
Quotes for U-grade young bulls vary from 305c-314c/kg. The Rs run from 294-305c/kg, with the Os ranging between 280 and 286c/kg. The west is not the best place to be selling as far as quotes are concerned.
Depending on grade and kill-out weight, cull cow quotes and prices range from a low quote of 230c/kg up to actual prices paid of as high as 286c/kg for heavy, top-class cows. O+ cows over 320kg deadweight are making 266c/kg in Donegal and this appears to be there if looked for around the country for good R grades, with some farmers getting up to 274c/kg. Some plants are only quoting a range of 235-246c/kg with a tops of 248c/kg.