The €100m question: how did Big Phil arrive at that bailout figure?


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Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Factory prices appeared to have stabilised after their recent resurgence. Yesterday I could find no agent willing to push beyond €4.00/kg for bullocks and €4.10/kg for heifers.

In relation to that bullock price I'm told "its exceptional cases only" with €3.90-3.95/kg the norm. Still the fact is bullocks were slaughtered at base of €4.00/kg yesterday.

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The reason for this easing in anxiety among factories is that supplies last week reached 32,873.

Quotes for bulls, while not any less than recently, appear to be the hardest to get movement on as factories once again measure their requirements.

Yesterday bull prices ranged from €3.80-3.75/kg for Us, with R grades at €3.70/kg, and continental O types back at €3.60/kg. O-grade Friesians are a shade less.

The cull cow trade by comparison appears to be ticking along quite nicely with R grades trading from €3.50/kg to €3.40/kg, O grades are improved to €3.20/kg, while your better P-grade cow with a bit of feeding in her was making €2.90-3.10/kg

And so, it has come to pass that someone somewhere along the beef chain will get money by way of compensation for alleged market instability created by Brexit.

God knows winter finishers deserve a break having been hammered by poor market returns and ever-increasing input costs for years.

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Commissioner Phil Hogan is to be complimented on getting the money, an EU acknowledgment that winter finishing in Ireland is in trouble.

The IFA, of the various organisations and groups claiming to have twisted Mr Hogan's arm on the matter, probably deserve the most credit for making this happen.

All fine and dandy so far, but I would dearly like to know on what figure or calculation Mr Hogan hung his argument on when he went about trying to get that €50 million from the EU.


Was it the difference between the Irish factory base price versusthe EU or UK average?

Was it the increased price index of farm inputs versus farm/factory returns? Because historically 2018 wasn't the worst year winter finishers have had in recent memory.

Factory base prices for bullocks dipped to €3.60/kg in October/November 2016.

The reaction among the farming community since the announcement appears to be one of: "Forget the how we got it. We got it and that's all that matters".

But beef farmers need to know how this €100 million figure was arrived at (€50 from the EU plus matching monies from the Irish exchequer) because it is the benchmark at which the EU has just told Irish beef farmers they will intervene.

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