Factory prices continue to hold although there are indications that some plants are considering their options, with cull cows again reported to be in the firing line.
Quotes from agents over the weekend saw the base price for bullocks floating from €3.55-360/kg, with heifers on €3.60/kg, although I suspect €3.65/kg is still in the offing.
On the young bull front prices are reported to stable at €3.55-3.60/kg for Us, with Rs on €3.50/kg and Os €3.40/kg, but some report difficulties in getting bulls away.
The 'option' being considered in relation to cull cows I'm told is that of easing the price of the better Ps back to €2.60-2.75/kg from last week's €2.70-2.80.
So what's affecting the trade at the minute? The obvious answer is the lockdown, but as numbers continue to creep up - 28,876 for the week ending May 24 - factory agents are not slow to mention difficulties in getting markets.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture figures show the total kill to May 24 as standing at 668,616, compared to 720,342 for the same period in 2019.
Does this mean there are extra supplies waiting in the wings? Very possibly.
The one factor in the finishers' favour is the continuing good weather, but numbers overhanging the market is never a good thing.
Another factor that isn't helping things is the weakening of sterling against the euro. Back at the end of April sterling stood at 87p to the euro; last Friday it was that figure was 90p.
Add the Department's decision to suspend beef exports to China because of an "atypical BSE" case in a suspect 14-year-old cow and you would wonder will ever see good news.
Looking back 12 months, this week's kill stood at 31,809; it too was a short week yet bullocks were on a base of €3.85-3.90/kg, with heifers trading off €3.95-4.00/kg. \
Adding in the then quality assurance payment of 12c/kg, qualifying stock were trading from €4-4.10/kg. Today with the QA set at 20c/kg for under 30 months and 8c/kg for 30-36 months, we're in real terms on €3.63-3.75 for bullocks and €3.80-3.85/kg for heifers.
The dominance exercised by the small number of processors in this country has long exercised the minds of the farming community. The situation in the USA is similar with beef farmers there having only four major operators to choose from when selling.
However, the US have 'anti-trust' laws to help promote competition and benefit consumers.
Donald Trump is reported to have directed his Justice Department to start an investigation to see if US meat packers had broken antitrust laws following complaints that as the Covid crisis deepened, supermarket prices rose while returns to producers fell.
Now there's a novel thought.