Beef Prices: Small signs of faith being rewarded
Easter is the great Christian celebration of hope, the time when we are told that provided we have led good and righteous lives, we can look forward to eternal life in the hereafter.
The dedication shown by those who fatten cattle is akin to a religious belief - a belief that someday your faith will be rewarded.
Yesterday morning that day moved possibly a step closer with reports emerging that prices appear to have begun the long road to recovery, with €3.75/kg for bullocks and €3.85/kg for heifers available.
This is not exactly road to Damascus stuff, as that extra 5c/kg had been hovering around for a little while, but the reports I got suggested it had become more widespread over the weekend.
I did speak to agents in the south and the west who continue to quote €3.70/kg and €3.80/kg, yet in the next parish their competition had moved the goalposts by that 5c/kg.
Prices for cull cows, while remaining apparently steady, do seem to be showing signs of tightening: agents who had been starting their quotes at €2.50-2.60/kg for better P grades a week ago were yesterday up to €2.70/kg, with maybe a shake more for the right customer. R grades are at €3.00-3.10/kg with O grades on €2.80-2.90/kg.
Prices for bulls, however, show little sign of recovery, with quotes yesterday seeing U grades at €3.50-3.60/kg, Rs on €3.40-3.50/kg and O grade bulls on €3.30-3.40/kg. Meanwhile, some plants are continuing to offer only €3.00/kg for O grade Friesians.
The national kill was back 289hd on the previous week at 35,295. It's a small reduction but every little helps.
As the agriculture committee peruse the various submissions made on the future of the Irish beef sector, I hope they consider the initiative taken by Foyle Meats (Carrigan's) of Donegal, who have adopted a policy of paying quality payments across all grades of bullocks and heifers once they fall within market-specified weights and retentions - as opposed to the far more restricted policy adopted by other plants.
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