Even though it is minimal, the movement from week to week in the political polls is still quite a bit more than what we are seeing from the factory quotes for lambs and ewes.
Having said that, the fact that quotes have remained more along the lines of Fine Gael rather than the Greens is good news for sheep producers.
As you will see from the table, all of the plants are more or less where they were last Tuesday with a base of 470c/kg being quoted by them all apart from the all-in quote of 480c/kg on offer from Moyvalley Meats.
The second bonus of 5c/kg for quality assured lambs going into Kildare on top of the normal 6c/kg bonus for the U grades leaves the Lilywhite plant at a level similar to its neighbours. The rest are on the aforementioned base plus the bonus.
Despite the supply being described as tightish, factory sources say that numbers on offer are more than adequate to supply the present slow trade.
They were anxious to point out that, with the impending lambing season, some farmers were almost dumping the last of their old season lambs just to get them out of the way to make room for the new crop.
It is extremely important to make sure that lambs are suitable for slaughter before you sell them to the factory. Otherwise penalties will ensure that those lambs die in debt.
The IFA's James Murphy said the market remained stable and regardless of the factories quoting a low base of 470c/kg, quite a number of feeders were holding out for and getting prices of up to €5/kg. He added that €14.8m grassland payments went out to 22,660 farmers last week and that it is vital for the Department to pay out the remaining €3.2m to the other 5,000 farmers immediately.
Kepak Hacketstown and Kildare are tops for the cull ewe quotes at 275c/kg. The rest are offering 270c/kg apart from Moyvalley who are not quoting.
There was little change in the sheep trade last week, according to An Bord Bia, as relatively low supplies continued to help offset a sluggish market demand. Quotes for lambs were typically averaging around €4.75/kg for most of the week. Trade for cull ewes settled down with quotes unchanged at €2.70/kg.
In the UK, the lamb trade strengthened, reflecting lower supplies and some strengthening in sterling. By the weekend, live market prices were making the equivalent of €4.95/kg (deadweight) including VAT.
In France, domestic supplies of Lacaune lamb continue to strengthen, which is affecting demand for imported product. Volumes of Irish lamb on the market remain small with Grade 1 lamb delivered to Paris reported to be making around €5.10/kg.
Meanwhile, the latest forecasts from Eblex point to lower British sheepmeat output in 2011. The sheepmeat trade is expected to remain largely unchanged. Eblex expects the volume of sheepmeat available for consumption to ease slightly as consumer spending remains under pressure.
Lower lambing rates during 2010 coupled with a declining breeding flock in Britain are expected to reduce sheep output by almost 2pc to 269,000t for 2011. Looking ahead to 2012 and 2013, sheepmeat output is expected to recover slightly as the breeding flock settles down and becomes younger.
Consumption levels are expected to track the fall in output.