By attempting to pull quotes by 3-6c/kg, the beef processors run the risk of becoming even more unpopular than our beleaguered Taoiseach.
And cattle numbers, while not as scarce as standing ministers at the moment, are down over 3,500hd compared to the corresponding week last year. Last week's kill was estimated at 28,400 animals.
The good news is that despite the usual game that the factories play when trying to entice farmers to sell, most of the cattle being killed this week have been bought at prices above what they are trying to quote.
Steer base quotes on the grid are generally at 330c/kg, with the plants buying off the grid also quoting this figure for the R grades.
Some farmers are negotiating prices of 336c/kg.
There is a bit more of a difference on the heifer quotes with a range of 336-342c/kg being offered. There are reports of a flat price of 342c/kg paid in the west for O+ and O grade heifers, while 347c/kg was paid for good quality underage heifers in the east of the country.
In-spec heifers being killed in Donegal have been bought at 361c/kg for the Us and 350c/kg for the R grades. Steers were making 3c/kg less. Out-of-spec stock are 11c/kg less.
Tops for U-grade young bulls seems to be 347c/kg, with this being the general quote around the country. Moyvalley is a bit behind at 336c/kg. R grades range from a low of 330c/kg in Moyvalley, up to a price of 342c/kg, which is available from the likes of Liffey and Kepak Clonee. Kepak Athleague is offering 336c/kg, with 333c/kg being quoted in some of the AIBP plants in the south. The O grades are making between 319c/kg and 325c/kg.
The tops I heard for cows over the past week was the 311c/kg Duleek was said to have paid for R grades. The best quotes and prices elsewhere for good cows varies from 298c/kg to 308c/kg.
O grades appear to be making 280c/kg to 298c/kg, with plainer cows ranging from 269c/kg to 280c/kg. Some farmers selling a mixture of O and R grades are negotiating flat prices of anything between 294c/kg and 308c/kg.
Commenting on the trade, IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said that with the kill for the year projected to fall by 150,000hd due to the high level of live exports and the large kill last year, feeders should dig in, reject the negative scaremongering by the factories and agents and insist on higher prices.
He added that with the recent significant price increases for feed and fertiliser, farmers needed to see beef returns improve.
Latest reports from Britain show that the trade was reportedly unchanged.
Bord Bia reported that demand for round and steak cuts was seasonally quiet, while forequarter product was reportedly moving well and strengthening.
Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have increased slightly with GB R4L grade steers averaging at Stg£292.5p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 361c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended January 15.
Trade remains good in the key European markets as restocking continues to take place. Forequarter cuts are in best demand. In Germany, the R3 young bull price is making €3.73c/kg, with the O3 cow price making €2.59c/kg. Irish steer hinds in France were making €4.64-4.84c/kg. In Italy, the R3 young bull price is averaging €3.66c/kg with O3 cows making €2.64c/kg.