Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Beef - farmers selling at 120c/kg lower than a year ago

IFA President Eddie Downey and IFA National Livestock chairman Henry Burns lock some trollies. Over 500 IFA members protested at Tesco in Naas, Co Kildare.
IFA President Eddie Downey and IFA National Livestock chairman Henry Burns lock some trollies. Over 500 IFA members protested at Tesco in Naas, Co Kildare.

Joe Healy

I was letting the heart rule the head in hoping that, just maybe, beef prices would enjoy a comeback of Mayo football proportions.

Alas, it was patently clear from the throw-in yesterday morning that steers and heifers were under renewed downward pressure from the factories.

They are being helped by the kill figures which stood at an estimated 32,430hd last week. This was approximately 5,150hd up on the kill for the corresponding week last year.

One seller I spoke to had also sold his steers this week last year at €4.20/kg. This week he is selling for €3.60/kg. These are real figures and in no ways exaggerated.

Put the 60c/kg difference over a 400kg carcase and the farmer in question is losing €240/hd. This is not profitable, sustainable or fair.

Over-age stock are being quoted a base at least 10c/kg below the in-specs while Friesians in places are a further 5-10c/kg back.

All of this makes the Grid as it was introduced, a joke and more or less irrelevant at this stage.

The processors are just doing their own thing and making up rules to suit themselves as they go along. Someone has to shout stop. Farmers are at their wits end and totally disillusioned.

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Steers are being quoted at 360c/kg and most are actually being sold at this as well this week. The 365c/kg deals are there but not commonplace.

It is a similar story for the heifers quote-wise but probably a little easier to secure the 365c/kg base if you are willing to haggle for a while.

Bulls appear to be holding up and is being helped by limited supplies. Prices for the U grades vary from 345-365c/kg with reports of 370c/kg and possibly more negotiated.

The Rs are making from 335c/kg in the south up to 355c/kg in the east. O grade bulls are selling at 310-330c/kg depending on where you go.

Trade for the cull cows is also pretty firm with a tops of 340c/kg mentioned.

In the main the better cows are making from 320-340c/kg while prices for the Os range from 300-320c/kg. The Ps are making from 280-300c/kg.


Farmers with a good number of a mixture of P and O grades are doing deals closer to the O grade prices than the P price at 300-310c/kg.

The cattle trade was described as under pressure last week by Bord Bia due to continued increased supply levels at export meat plants. Trade continues to remain slow across our key export markets.

The majority of steers and heifers were purchased at a base price of around €3.65/kg on the Quality Payment System. These prices exclude the €0.12/kg bonus which is payable on in-spec QA animals.

Prices paid for O grade cull cows were generally making between €2.95-3.10/kg. Cumulative supplies for the year to-date are running at around 112,000 head or 12pc above the figures for the corresponding period last year.

Throughput of prime cattle continues to be up over 15pc so far this year.

In Britain, reported cattle prices from the AHDB have increased with GB R4L grade steers averaging at 343.2p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 450c/kg incl VAT).

Trade picked up slightly with the change in weather and people returning from holidays. It is anticipated that demand for forequarter cuts will pick up in the coming weeks.


In France the market continues to remain steady with few changes reported. The R3 young bull price was up 3c to €3.91/kg incl VAT and the O3 cow price was up 1c to €3.61/kg

Meanwhile, the IFA president Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must accept that there is a severe income crisis in the livestock sector.

He has requested Minister Coveney to call an urgent meeting between the meat factories and the IFA to try and make progress on a number of key issues.

With prices recovering in the Britain, the latest round of price cuts from the factories cannot be justified, he added.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that the 'softly-softly' approach to retailers and meat processors is clearly not working.

"ICSA is again calling on all farmers and farm organisations to consider withdrawing from the Quality Assured Scheme. We need to send a clear, unequivocal message to processors and retailers that farmers will not be bullied," he said.

Indo Farming