Farmers start to call shots with flat sales

Joe Healy

OUR BEST hope is that the horse we back this week in Ballybrit will move faster than the beef quotes.

Some of the factory agents are openly admitting that supplies are drying up, and last week's estimated kill of 29,500hd is a step in the right direction from the sellers' point of view. However, as is normal, the plants are reluctant to raise the quotes, but there are more and more examples of farmers calling the shots, selling off the grid and insisting on the old-type flat prices and with good results.

Some of the plants are more anxious to get adequate numbers in than to stick to the grid. Farmers with reasonable numbers are negotiating prices well above the quotes this week.

The base quote for steers varies from a low of 302c/kg in Moyvalley up to 322c/kg for the in-spec R grades going into Donegal. Some of the AIBP, Kepak and Dawn plants, and Dunbia, Liffey and Slaney, are offering a base of 303-306c/kg for the bullocks. Farmers have successfully bargained for up to 308c/kg in almost all of those plants for their Rs.

For qualifying cattle, the QA bonus of 6c/kg is paid on top of this. Every farmer needs to check the statement from the factory as there are several occasions where this was not paid where it should have been. I'm aware of under- and over-age O- and R-grade steers from the south sold this week for 294c/kg and 305c/kg respectively.

The heifer base quote ranges from 308-314c/kg. Again, the females are pretty scarce and farmers are negotiating prices well above the quotes.

Donegal and Kepak Clonee are top for the U-grade young bulls, at 322c/kg. For the Rs, Donegal is paying 311c/kg, with 308c/kg being the quote in most of the other plants. Down south, the quotes are as low as 300c/kg. The O and O+ bulls are making anything from 288-302c/kg depending on where you go.

Agents have been told not to leave beef behind them in any yard if at all possible, so make sure you maximise your selling power. You will only sell the animal once.

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IFA's beef chairman Michael Doran said that farmers need to bargain for a minimum base of 310c/kg for their steers and 315c/kg for their heifers as supplies are getting extremely tight. He added that black and white cull cows were making 252c/kg.

Quotes and prices for the cull cows have also strengthened a little. The general buying price for the P+3 cows is 241-252c/kg. Os are in a range of 246-263c/kg, while the R grades are making 252-266c/kg.

The cattle trade showed little change during the week, according to Bord Bia, as a reasonable market demand combined with some reported slow down in supplies helped price levels.

Quotes for R-grade steers under the quality payment system were at least similar to a week earlier at a base reference price of 303-308c/kg. Heifer prices also eased with quotes in the range of 311-316c/kg. These prices exclude the six cent on in-spec quality-assured stock. Prices for O-grade cows showed little change, with quotes at 246-255c/kg.

Supplies to date this year are almost 14pc (108,000hd) higher, with almost 60pc of the increase coming from heifers and cows.

In the UK, there was little change in the beef trade. Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have shown little movement, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg271.9p/kg dw (equivalent to 337c/kg inclusive of VAT dw) for the week ending July 17.

Irish Independent

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