The farmer may not be as angry with the factories for trying to drop beef prices as the whole country was with Bertie Ahern last week on learning that his biggest regret was not having built a national stadium.
The reason is largely because producers are not buying into the typical factory scaremongering and tactics. Producers are just flatly refusing to sell at the lower quotes. As a result supplies, while up on the previous week at an estimated 29,530, are still more than 3,600hd below the same week last year.
A base quote for steers is generally at the 330c/kg level but quite a few farmers are successfully negotiating up to 336c/kg, with the quality assurance payment of 6c/kg paid on top of this. It never ceases to amaze me how some factories continue to quote farmers and, indeed the press, ridiculously low figures when asked for quotes -- and this is certainly the case with those that quoted down to as little as 336c/kg for heifers.
The sad part is that they probably bought some at this amount due to the farmer being either too loyal or too lazy to contact a few other plants. If they had, they would quickly realize that 340-342c/kg is easily bargained for, with the QA payment added to this.
Plants included at all of the above quotes include the big three as well as Moyvalley, Liffey, Dunbia, Slaney and Kildare. The story from the north-west is that in-spec heifers going into Donegal meats are making 356c/kg for the Us, 347c/kg for the Rs, 339c/kg for the O+ grades and the ordinary Os making 330c/kg. The steers are 3c/kg back from those prices.
The trade for the cull cows is pretty strong. Reports from the east suggest that a large number of good continentals commanded up to 308c/kg. Many plants are paying 300-305c/kg for those types, while the general run of cows made 280-294c/kg.
The cattle trade eased slightly during the week, according to Bord Bia, with stronger supplies and a slower demand following Christmas restocking. However, demand is holding up well for forequarter cuts and manufacturing beef.
Quotes for R-grade steers this week under the Quality Payment System eased slightly as prices ranged from 330-336c/kg. Similarly, heifer prices were lower, with base quotes at 336-342c/kg, which excludes the 6c/kg on in-spec QA stock.