Little sign of festive cheer for finishers

Roscommon Mart. Lot Number 7B. Weight 500Kg. DOB 17/4/17. Heifer. Breed CHX
Price €1180 Photo Brian Farrell
Roscommon Mart. Lot Number 7B. Weight 500Kg. DOB 17/4/17. Heifer. Breed CHX Price €1180 Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

“Prices continue their upward trajectory this week. Bullocks moved up to bases of €3.95-4.00/kg, with heifers reported as selling from €4.05-4.10/kg, with €4.15 being paid on special orders.”

I don’t blame you if you did a double take. That is the first paragraph from this column 12 months ago.

The headline read “Christmas has come early for the beef sector”.

Not so this Christmas. Now, the world of the beef finisher is in a far different place. Prices yesterday remained fixed for in-spec bullocks at €3.75/kg, heifers on €3.85/kg, with reports that farmers with over-age or out-of-spec stock were forced to take 10c/kg less.

And reports yesterday indicate that with the chills full and Christmas coming, a number of plants plan to reduce their kill this week and over the festive period.

Returning to pricing, cull cows remain in the doldrums, with Rs now no better than €3.00/kg, Os on €2.60-2.80/kg and Ps €2.40-2.60/kg.

The situation in relation to bulls also sees no improvement, with the base for under-16-month stock continuing at €3.70-3.75/kg.

Bulls up to 24 months are on €3.80-3.85/kg for Us, with Rs at €3.70-3.75, while O grades range from €3.50/kg to €3.60/kg. All in all, there is not a lot of Christmas cheer about among finishers.

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While EU prices along with those in the UK have headed downwards in recent times, the Irish factories’ performance has turned us into Europe’s version of South America when it comes to cheap beef prices.

When Minister Creed and his officials come to putting our case forward for a strengthened payment envelope for beef farmers at next year’s agriculture budget review, the prices we were forced to take this year must be hammered home.

Sometimes when you look at the score and see your team well behind, you need something extra to keep you going — like a hefty challenge by your full-back on the opposition’s full-forward, knocking him flat. Something to give you belief.

I don’t wish to overstate what the IFA achieved with their occupation of the Department of Agriculture’s lobby last week in relation to the supervision on meat factory kill lines.

IFA president Joe Healy yesterday assured me that undertakings given by the Minister for Agriculture in relation to carcase trim at factories will be made to stick.


“From January 1, the names of the factories who commit trim offences will be published each quarter on the Department of Agriculture website.

“The farmers impacted will be informed, and they will be fully compensated by the factories,” Mr Healy said.

He also said that the minister has undertaken to publish the names of the factories who committed the 19 offences in 2018 and the 28 offences in 2016 before the end of the year.

Asked if the IFA would be prepared to return to the Department with sleeping bags in the new year should the Minister and his Department fail in any of their undertakings, Mr Healy replied: “The IFA will do whatever is necessary.”

Another issue for the IFA during their protest last week was stopping attempts by the EU to reduce the time needed to assemble stock for export from 29 days to just 14. This is worrying.

Indo Farming

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