Halt to cuts comes as welcome relief
Sport and the sheep trade may not have a lot in common, but the one thing it does share is the element of unpredictability.
Last Sunday's second All-Ireland draw in as many years is matched by the factories' lamb quotes for this week, which are more or less the same as last week.
All bar one plant were on a base of 450c/kg seven days ago. It is a different plant that is the odd one out today, but all of the rest are still on the 450c/kg base.
The 'draw' from a sheep farmer's point of view will fall a long way short of generating the €2.75m for the industry that Domhnall O Donovan's shot in desperation will do for the GAA. But it is still welcome to see the continuous weekly reductions to the quotes over the past 6-7 weeks being halted.
The odd one out referred to above is Kepak Athleague. That might be a blessing since word had it that they were trying to pull the quote downwards.
In the absence of a quote from them I won't speculate. The two 5c/kg bonuses from Kildare Chilling for quality assured lambs and U grades keeps them at the top of the pile. The ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis are only paying the one bonus for the U grades. Kepak Hacketstown's quote was for yesterday only as they are not killing again until Thursday. The 450c/kg on offer from Moyvalley is an all-in figure. One farmer who contacted me over the weekend was disappointed at what he felt was a large number of Northern Irish lambs being killed in the factories and he said that the processors need to prioritise lambs produced on farms in the South.
Commenting on the trade, the IFA's James Murphy said that our factories must use the upcoming Muslim festival to get prices back up to viable levels and to restore confidence in the sector. He added that many farmers are refusing to sell below 460c/kg and at weights of up to 22kg.
Kildare also tops the cull ewe table by remaining on a quote of 190c/kg. Kepak Hacketstown are offering 185c/kg with 180c/kg quoted by the ICMs and Dawn. Farmers with numbers are securing prices of up to and over €2/kg.