Referring to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on this day 90 years ago, our Taoiseach Enda Kenny, in his address to the nation on Sunday, said that he is confident that we can make our way to recovery, prosperity and fulfilment. Leaving aside the prosperity and fulfilment, the past year has helped Irish beef farmers to some form of recovery after years of -- I think it is fair to say -- working at a loss.
All the indications are that the final few weeks will show very little change to where we are at the moment. The weekly kills are remaining pretty stable at 33,000-34,000hd. Last week's estimated figure was 33,150 animals.
Probably the best way to describe the trade at the moment is that despite efforts by the processors to pull prices a little, a refusal by the farmer to accept less for cattle is resulting in prices remaining firm.
Base quotes for the steers are generally in the 385-390c/kg range, with prices of 390-395c/kg being the norm, especially if the cattle are underage.
Some plants are trying their hand at buying over-age steers on a base of 380c/kg. Donegal are offering 400c/kg for the in-spec R-grade bullocks.
On the heifer front, the general run for base quotes is 395-400c/kg, with prices ranging in the main from 400-405c/kg. The R-grade heifer going into Donegal is being quoted at 406c/kg this week, while the U grade is at 418c/kg. O+ grades are at 398c/kg.
Some good young bulls bought last week but being slaughtered this week have made up to 410c/kg flat, with other reports of flat prices of 405c/kg for batches of R and U grades.
Quotes and prices for the Us go from 392-410c/kg, with the Rs at 385-400c/kg. O grades are quoted at 375-385c/kg.
Commenting on the trade, the IFA's Michael Doran said that despite a concerted move by the factories to exert downward pressure, they were still having to pay 10-15c/kg above the quotes to get in-spec cattle which are in short supply.
The best of the cull cows are making 350-360c/kg. R-grade prices range from 330-354c/kg depending on weight and where you sell. The Os are varying from 322-348c/kg, while the P+ cows range from 314-336c/kg.
Bord Bia reported that the trade for cattle eased slightly last week reflecting some slow down in demand across key export markets, despite domestic cattle supplies remaining tight. Best trade reported is for in-spec quality assured cattle.
Quotes for R-grade steers under the Quality Payment System (QPS) are generally making €3.85-3.90/kg. Heifer quotes are making in the region of €3.95-4/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec quality assured stock. O-grade cows are typically making €3.19-3.26/kg.
On a year-to-date basis, cattle supplies are now running almost 5pc lower than the same period last year.
In Britain, the trade remained steady in the run-up to Christmas, helped by tight supplies which are reportedly offsetting some slight easing in demand.
Best trade reported remains for forequarter product. Demand for steak cuts continue to show a slow trade, although demand for roasting joints is reportedly holding firm.
Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have firmed, with GB R4L grade steers averaging Stg346p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 423c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended November 26.
On the Continent, demand eased a little across the key export markets. The trade for the more expensive product like striploins and fillets is starting to build in the run-up to Christmas.
In Germany, R3 young bull prices fell by 7/c to €3.94/kg, while O3 cows prices dropped by 10/c to €3.13/kg. In France, Irish steer hinds are still trading at €5.26/kg.
Meanwhile, speaking at the EU beef advisory meeting in Brussels this week, the IFA's Michael Doran highlighted the negative impact on the Irish beef and livestock sector from the CAP 2013 proposals.
Mr Doran claimed the proposals for a flat-rate payment system for the Single Farm Payment, a 30pc cut for Greening and a 2014 reference year, would decimate beef production.