Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

QA and quote rise adds extra 11c/kg

Joe Healy

Dare I mention horses and cattle in the same sentence? While there was no shortage of quality Irish stock on show in Cheltenham last week, this week is all about quality assured (QA) beef heifers and steers.

At a Meat Industry Ireland (MII) meeting last week it was agreed to double the QA payment up to 12c/kg. Word has it that certain processing personnel wanted to move it up to 20c/kg but a compromise was agreed at the 12c/kg.

Obviously it is an effort to get more cattle into the QA system and probably also spark a return to steer beef from bull beef. One beef finisher I spoke to said while any increase is always welcome, he felt an increase in the qualifying age limit from 30 to 36 months would be far more beneficial. He saw no reason why this couldn't be introduced too.

On the other hand, the processors may argue that you are moving into huge weights that are tougher to sell in the market place. In any case, if you are selling this week make sure you get the 12c/kg if your stock are QA.

Quotes and prices have also moved in a positive direction with a 5c/kg rise commonplace. While the steer quotes are generally between 425-430c/kg, the base prices being negotiated are more often up around 435c/kg with the 12c/kg QA on top of this.

Similarly, the heifer quotes range from 445c/kg to 450c/kg but prices have varied between 450-460c/kg. Finishers with non-QA stock are finding it more difficult to bargain for acceptable prices, with some farmers reporting that quotes for these animals are well behind the QA animals.

In a nutshell, it is all about quality assurance in the present climate. IFA's Henry Burns said that the QA increase was positive and reflective of the market and added that with a stronger reward farmers will respond. He also advised farmers that there were no weight restrictions to the QPS.

U-grade bulls are generally making from 425-438c/kg, with the best prices in the northwest for in-spec bulls. Quotes and prices for the Rs range between 415c/kg and 426c/kg. O grades are generally making 400-405c/kg, with the Ps at around 390c/kg.

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The top heavy double-muscled E-grade cows continue to make a minimum of 420c/kg. Good U and R grades range from 370c/kg to 410c/kg, while the Os are making 350-370c/kg. P+ cows are commanding prices of 330-365c/kg.

With the opening of the EU-US trade talks this week, IFA national livestock committee chairman Henry Burns said both Irish and European negotiators needed to be extremely careful that our important agriculture sector, and particularly our €2bn beef sector, was not placed in the firing line.

He said there was no doubt the US would be seeking a substantial increase in the volume of beef imports into the valuable EU market. The IFA livestock leader said the EU Commission could not agree to any beef imports which failed to meet EU standards on the critical issues of food safety, traceability, environmental protection and animal welfare. In addition, he said European consumers had real concerns with production systems where hormones and ractopamine were used, pointing out that these are banned in the EU.

An Bord Bia described the cattle trade as improved again last week, with tighter supplies on the Irish and British markets driving prices.

Trade also continued to be helped by strong demand across most of the key export markets for in-spec cattle.

In Britain, the trade was reportedly steady in response to solid demand in advance of the Easter period. Good demand for round cuts continues to be helped by retailer promotions. Trade for forequarter continues to be steady.

Reported cattle prices from the AHDB have increased during the past week, with GB R4L grade steers averaging at Stg384.6p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 465c/kg including VAT deadweight) for the week ended March 9.

On the Continent, there was little change to report, with trade firm across most markets. Overall, trade continues to be helped somewhat by ongoing tight supplies across the different key export markets. Best demand is for hindquarter product.

In Italy, R3 young bulls increased by 8c to €4.29/kg, while O3 cow prices increased by 2c to €3.13/kg. Irish steer hinds in France were making €5.56-5.66/kg, while O3 cow prices were making €3.85/kg including VAT.

Irish Independent