Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Little to celebrate over beef prices as farmers show unhappiness with grid

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Beef prices will rise by 10-15c/kg before Christmas, but will not reach 340c/kg for spring, Paul Nolan from Dawn Meats has forecast.

The factory man maintained a 10-15c/kg hardening of prices was dependent on cattle supplies tightening, as expected, and sterling not deteriorating any further.

Speaking to farmers at the Teagasc winter cattle seminar in Mallow, Mr Nolan poured cold water on price expectations for the spring.

"Can I see it making 340c/kg, if that is the cost of winter finishing? The honest answer is no," he told farmers. "I think we are a bit far off that at the moment."

The Quality Payment System (QPS) came under fire from several quarters at the meeting on Thursday night.

"The problem with our declining suckler herd is the complete lack of confidence we have in buyers of our product," insisted one farmer. "The man on the ground is getting feck all."


"We're not all stupid but even the cutest of boys can't follow the grid," insisted another finisher.

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"I used to get all Rs but the last lot I sent in, they had the audacity to tell me that they were four Os and two Rs, when I would have said one of them was close to a U."

When another farmer asked the crowd of 150 farmers who was happy with grid, not a single hand was raised.

However, Mr Nolan, who is the Dawn Meats development manager, insisted that the grid system had resulted in a more orderly marketing of cattle that were closer to what the market required.

"Now a farmer is picking out his best four or five cattle, instead of ringing for a lorry to collect them all, regardless of whether they are fit or not," he said.

"The people who were wasting their money are beginning to see what they should be doing."


Mr Nolan revealed that there were plans to add young bulls to the grid payment system.

"There will be a young bull payment in some form of quality grid system," he said. "And I would expect the pricing to start at around 16-18months."

With young bulls now accounting for some 20pc of the total kill, the factory man said supermarkets would insist that young bulls were slaughtered at a suitable age.

"Otherwise you end up with a massive striploin with no cover on it that no-one wants," he added. "It only takes one box of the wrong stuff to ruin a product."

Irish Independent