High kill figure means processors hold all the aces
This week's quotes for bullocks and heifers see no improvement, with their prices continuing on €3.70 and €3.80/kg respectively.
Bulls up to 24 months also show no improvement, with U-grades making €3.50/kg generally, and €3.60/kg in places.
R-grades are on €3.50-3.40/kg, with the plainer O-grade back as low as €3.00/kg - especially if they're of dairy origin.
Better fleshed O-grades are reported to be around the €3.20-3.30/kg mark.
Prices for cull cows remain static, with R-grades at €3.00/kg or thereabouts, O grades are selling for €2.75-2.85/kg, with the top-end P-grade animal making €2.60-2.70/kg.
Last week's kill of 35,584 was ahead of the previous week by 485 and 3,413 above the same week last year.
Is it any wonder therefore some plants are comfortable with reducing their kill days as they work on their long-term buying strategy?
Pressure for a total overhaul of the QPS pricing grid and the grading machines used to calculate conformation and fat score continues to mount.
TD Denis Naughten's revelation in the Dail two weeks ago that the grading machines were licensed on the basis that they had to be just 60pc accurate rocked many farmers.
My own investigations show that depending on carcase weight, the tolerance for meat factory weighing scales is set from 0.1-1pc, quite a difference to the 40pc allowed for the grading machines.
And the Department of Agriculture have pledged to ask the manufacturers, "Why do the grading machines used in Irish factories grade only one side of the carcase?"
"We specifically asked that each half of the animal carcase be graded individually, so that the farmer could make the case to be paid on the higher-graded half, if there was a difference," said Des Morrison, the ICMSA's livestock committee chair.
Grading both sides of the animal has to be fundamental if farmers are to get a properly balanced appraisal of conformation and fat score.
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