Farm Ireland

Friday 17 November 2017

DAFF report's price comparisons are fairer than that of MII

Martin Ryan

The prices used in the Farming Independent report were taken from the Department of Agriculture (DAFF)/Bord Bia report on cattle prices up to early October. This was the latest available data at the time of writing.

The prices to October 31 were not available for several days later and therefore any increase/change occurring post the assessed date, while minimal either way, could not have been taken into account.

The average paid in Ireland for O4 steers up to early October was 272.08c/kg. The price for 2008 was an average of 272.8c/kg. The challenge to this figure does not specify any fat score.

There was no reference made to 2005 prices which was six seasons ago. The 2006 price was, as stated, more than the 2010 price.

There was no comparison made with Irish 2009 prices, because the 2009 average included some prices which were paid under the quality payment system (QPS). The last full year of the 'flat' price system was 2008.


The comparison showed a widening, as previously stated, from 11.5c/kg to 31.8c/kg for O4 steers and 6.5c/kg to 26c/kg for O3 steers.

The change for O3 heifers was from less than 1c/kg to 17.8c/kg and for O4 heifers from 5 c/kg to 24.7 c/kg.

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Meat Industry Ireland (MII) states: "As MII has continuously pointed out, any fair comparison of Irish to British prices must take into account steer and heifer prices, must take various grades and must take into account the different carcass trim in British and the extra cost of transport for Irish beef to the marketplace."

The comparison was based on what producers were paid for O grade steers and heifers in Ireland and Britain for the period of analysis. Carcass trim did not materially change between 2008 and 2010. Therefore, any allowance for this did not apply. Neither should the ratio between Irish and British processing costs have altered substantially between 2008 and 2010.


The comparison of price/head change by MII was based on one week. In the report all comparisons were based on the 2010 year-to-date average versus the whole of 2008, which was far less selective and should produce a fairer analysis.

The average difference for an O4 grade 350kg steer was €111/hd and €91/hd for O3 grade steer. The difference for a 280kgs O3 grade heifer averaged €49.81/hd and €69/hd for a similar weight O4 grade heifer.

Variations for other grades were not assessed as they were not relevant to the comparison on O grade steers and heifers.

Irish Independent