Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 25 March 2019

Cattle prices hold as farmers and shippers battle for supplies

RTÉ reporter Paschal Sheehy was one of the celebrity auctioneers who wielded a gavel at the RearingToGo charity auction in Corrin Mart, Co Cork. The charity campaigns on raising awareness about mental health issues in the agri sector. Photo: Clare Keogh
RTÉ reporter Paschal Sheehy was one of the celebrity auctioneers who wielded a gavel at the RearingToGo charity auction in Corrin Mart, Co Cork. The charity campaigns on raising awareness about mental health issues in the agri sector. Photo: Clare Keogh

Martin Coughlan and Declan O'Brien

Intense competition between farmers and shippers - and continuing strong grass growth - has helped keep a floor under cattle prices over the last week, despite marts reporting massive entries.

Mart managers said cattle numbers for the last fortnight have been among the highest seen at the start of March for many years.

However, prices have held as farmer and shipper buyers battled for stock. With two boats due to sail for Libya over the next few weeks, agents were active in many southern marts.

The massive surge in grass growth recently has also prompted serious farmer buying, both of heifers and bullocks.

Although light heifers are in strong demand and generally making €2.00-2.20/kg, mart managers point out that these prices are 20-40c/kg back on last year.

A firm trade for bullocks has seen the majority of continentals sell for €2.40-2.60/kg, while Angus bullocks made €2.00-2.20/kg.

Meanwhile, IFA president Joe Healy met the Iranian ambassador, Masoud Eslami, yesterday to progress talks on reopening trade for beef, dairy and sheep meat between Ireland and Iran.

Mr Healy said there was real potential for substantial Irish agricultural exports to Iran, especially beef and dairy produce.

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Iran imported around 160,000t of beef in 2018, with the bulk of its supplies coming from Brazil. It is understood that the Iranian regime is anxious to reduce its dependency on supplies from the South American state which is led by the recently elected pro-Trump government of Jair Bolsonaro.

Iranian officials also met representatives from the ICSA in recent weeks to discuss the issue of beef supplies.

Staying with the Middle East, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, is to visit Turkey tomorrow to hold talks with officials.

However, a resumption of significant exports of Irish cattle to Turkey is not expected in the short-term.

In other beef sector news, Kepak has defended its decision to close its KK Beef Club heifer finishing scheme.

In a statement, Kepak explained that Co-op Italia, the main customer for KK heifer beef, is undertaking a review of its meat protein supply chains, including both domestic and foreign suppliers.

"Pending the conclusion of this review, Kepak and Co-op Italia have agreed to temporarily suspend the planned production of KK heifer beef this summer, but all existing production commitments will be completed and honoured in full," the statement said.

"The Co-op Italia review is matching the attributes of differing Irish beef systems with their changing consumer preferences and they are extremely excited about trialling Irish suckler beef from steers and heifers under a new brand," Kepak added.

Strong grass growth and export demand see mart numbers soar

Indo Farming