Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 January 2018

No good news for finishers

Joe Healy

UNLIKE swimmer Grainne Murphy, there doesn't seem to be any silver lining for beef finishers. While her success was achieved in the 1,500m freestyle it seems to be more like back to back uphill marathons for farmers selling beef.

Those that fed on cattle waiting for an increase when supplies eventually began to tighten are left extremely disappointed for the past couple of weeks as factories unsurprisingly refuse to make any significant positive movement to quotes.

The only bit of good news is that for farmers willing to bargain hard or with good numbers, plants are willing to pay well above the quotes in cases for stock. However, for those that continue to just accept what they are quoted or, worse still, not even bother to get a quote, it's a case of making do with working off the base, which for the steers this week remains in the range of 305-308c/kg.

The heifers quote vary from a low of 312c/kg up to Kepak Clonee's 322c/kg. Tuned-in farmers are refusing to accept those quotes with a few even refusing offers of 336c/kg from more than one plant in the south and demanding up to 350c/kg.

Other farmers are refusing point blank to sell on the grid and are finding most plants willing to come to some agreement on flat pricing or some other "add-ons" including all or part of transport.

Actually, the biggest fear and distrust that the farmers in general seem to have of the QPS is that the biggest processor appears to be the main operator sticking rigidly to it.

Factories mentioned at the quotes outlined above include Moyvalley, Kildare, Slaney, Liffey, Dunbia, Duleek and some of the Kepak, Dawn and AIBP plants. Some of those plants have paid up to 314c/kg for bullocks. Prices paid in Donegal this week are 298c/kg for the O grades, 305c/kg for the O+, 325c/kg for the Rs and 333c/kg for the U grade in-spec steers and heifers.

Kepak Clonee is tops for quotes for young bulls with its 325c/kg for U grades and 314c/kg for Rs with some flat prices for a good mix of 322c/kg being paid. Athleague is offering 322c/kg and 311c/kg for those grades respectively while in the south the Us are also at 322c/kg but the Rs are 3c/kg less at 308c/kg with the O grades being quoted at 291c/kg. Liffey is quoting 308c/kg and 314c/kg for the Rs and Us while Donegal is paying 314c/kg and 322c/kg for those grades.

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Last week's kill was estimated at 28,950 head. P grade cull cows quotes start at 241c/kg and move up to 252c/kg depending on carcase weight. Os generally range from 252-263c/kg and the R grades are being quoted for up to 274c/kg in Kepak Clonee. Donegal is paying 268c/kg for O+ cows over 320kgs. Some farmers are holding out for 280c/kg.

The cattle trade was a little firmer again last week, according to Bord Bia. Finished cattle supplies remain relatively scarce. Beef demand continues to be quiet in the UK, while the trade was said to be more buoyant in several continental markets.

Quotes for R grade steers under the quality payment system (QPS) increased on the previous week's levels with the base reference price now between 308c/kg and 312c/kg. Heifer prices also showed a small lift and are generally in the range 314c/kg to 320 cent/kg.

Irish Independent