Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Quotes stagnate as time now to end grid

Joe Healy

With agents and the odd factory source hinting at a tightening in numbers, I was half hoping for a positive quote movement.

I was wrong. The quotes are extremely disappointing and I would confidently suggest to our meat processors that they would be doing the farmer -- their supplier -- a far better service and achieve more satisfactory results if they guaranteed and/or passed on a realistic price for beef instead of all their new schemes for Friesian bull calves and beef cows after having one calf.

Having said that, it is nice to see them begin to squirm a little of late. Richard Hartnett of Castleisland Mart told me that more than 90pc of the Friesian bull calves sold there yesterday were going for export as the Irish farmer is afraid to buy them as a result of the future penalties he/she would incur if the grid system stays in place.

Based on all the comments I have heard from farmers, I have to say that it is clearly time to bite the bullet and scrap the grid in its current form, and try to come up with something that sufficiently rewards quality while at the same time paying a realistic price for the 50pc of animals that grade less than R.

Farmers have been frightened and quite a bit of damage has been done for this year -- and probably the kill figures for two years' time -- but let us correct it sooner rather than later.

Base quotes for steers continue to be 294-297c/kg, with the heifers at 296-302c/kg. Farmers accepting those figures, especially for the heifers, are doing themselves and the rest of the industry a disservice, as anyone willing to do any bit of bargaining is getting 305-311c/kg plus the quality assurance (QA) of 6c/kg if they qualify.

Plants mentioned at the above quotes include several of the AIBP, Dawn and Kepak factories, and Moyvalley meats, Liffey, Slaney and Dunbia.

Donegal Meats are paying 319c/kg for the in-spec R grades and 327c/kg for Us. This involves the heifers killing out at 280-380kg and the bullocks at 300-380kg, being underage and not more than four movements. For non-in-spec cattle, and young bulls, the prices are 308c/kg and 316c/kg respectively.

Also Read

Quotes for well-fleshed O and P-grade cull cows range from 240-252c/kg, with the Rs at 263-269c/kg. Some top quality cows made up to 280c/kg.

Meanwhile, the cattle trade was largely unchanged during the past week, according to Bord Bia, as strong supplies were helped by some better demand before Easter.

Quotes for R-grade steers under the Quality Payment System continued to make a base reference price of 294-300c/kg, with more reported to be available in some cases.

Heifer prices stood at 302-308c/kg. These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec QA stock.

In Britain, the beef trade was maintained with activity levels helped by increased buying in the run up to Easter.

Irish Independent