Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Farmers lose will to fight as big squeeze continues

 

Delvin Mart.Livestock are sorted into pens after the auction. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Delvin Mart.Livestock are sorted into pens after the auction. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Prices remain fixed to the floor. Factory base prices for bullocks yesterday continued at €3.75/kg, with the equivalent on the heifer side being €3.85/kg.

Foyle Meats in Donegal continue to set the pace, but their prices are back by 5c/kg to a base of €3.80/kg for bullocks and €3.90/kg for heifers.

The reason given for this price fall is not oversupply but that the markets they are selling into have become "difficult".

In the background stories continue to circulate of finishers with under-30-month stock commanding more. That's of little consolation to the majority of finishers with cattle in sheds, waiting for an indication that the tide on price might actually be turning.

Finishers are waiting for a price rise as slaughterings continue to register at over 40,000 per week, last week hitting 40,073.

Turning back to the specifics, cull cow prices continue to be squeezed, with reports that factories knocked another 10c/kg off their price across the board as last week progressed.

This leaves your O grade cow at around the €2.90/kg mark, with R grades making up to €3.10/kg, while P grades see +3s at €2.70/kg, with other Ps from €2.50/kg to €2.60/kg and back.

Also suffering are the bulls with under-24-month U grade stock now being bid at €3.90-3.85/kg, with R grades at €3.70-3.75/kg and O grades on €3.50-3.60/kg. Under-16-month bulls are on a base of €3.75/kg.

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What I find most distressing is that an awful lot of beef farmers are very accepting of their lot. There seems to be little stomach for the fight that would be required to bring the issue to a head.

In fairness Edmund Graham's ICSA beef blockading flying columns did bring a bit of steel to the conversation back on October but since then cattle farmers have seen little in the way of fighting leadership.

The IFA puts out weekly press statements on the difference in price between here and the UK, while the rabble-rousing Beef Plan 2018-25 Group don't seem to be taking on the factories directly.

Giving out about the problem is not the same as fighting for your living.

Meanwhile, in a reflection of the difficulties facing the beef sector, millers are reported as having instructed their sales teams to deny credit until "meaningful payments" are made by men who were traditionally viewed as "very sound".

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