Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Strong kill but quotes stalling

Joe Healy

Brian Lenihan's accusation that the unions are bullying the politicians made front page headlines in the Sunday Independent at the weekend.

Beef farmers would probably feel very confident making the same accusation about our processors' treatment of them down through the years. Many of them feel that the new QPS system is nothing but another tool for the factories to increase their profits.

One irate finisher I spoke to over the weekend told me that he sold O grade bulls and steers last week. He was trying to sell off the grid but they would only buy his steers on the grid. He got 280c/kg flat for all his O grade bulls and was convinced that if we didn't have the new system he would have negotiated this price for all his animals.

Some of his bulls graded O-2+ and he got 280c/kg for those. However, when some of his steers graded the same O-2+ on the grid he was cut by 18c/kg and also lost out on the 6c/kg quality assurance (QA). Leave the QA payment aside and just take the 18c/kg cut on a 370kg carcass and this man feels, with some justification, that the grid has resulted in him losing €66 on those steers that graded in this category.

I accept that the opposite can be argued for the farmers with top U grade bulls losing out by the bulls not being on the grid. It is an argument that will linger on I'm sure.

Last week's strong kill of an estimated 33,500hd has ensured that there has been little or no movement on quotes or prices, with the factories sticking in at a general quote of 294c/kg for the bullocks and 297-300c/kg for the heifers plus the 6c/kg QA for both sexes. The one plant doing a bit better is Donegal Meats, where an attempt to pull prices last week has been reversed and it is again paying 314c/kg, 308c/kg, 305c/kg and 302c/kg for the QA U, R, O+ and O= grades respectively. R-grade young bulls were making 302c/kg and the Us 311c/kg. Elsewhere, the base quote for steers is 294c/kg. Factories included here are Moyvalley, Dawn Ballyhaunis and Grannagh, Liffey, Dunbia, Eurofarm, Kildare, Kepak Athleague, Slaney and AIBP Waterford.

Better prices have been reported, with steers in the southeast making 300c/kg plus the 6c/kg. Most of those plants mentioned are quoting a base of 300c/kg for the heifers apart from Liffey which is on 294c/kg and Dawn Ballyhaunis which is offering 298c/kg. AIBP Rathkeale is quoting 291c/kg for the steers and 297c/kg for the heifers.

Rumours from Grannagh suggested they were anxious for heifers last week and were freely paying 308c/kg for suitable stock.

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ICSA national beef chairman Peter Fox said it had become apparent that the prices on offer for lower grades are dragging down all prices on the QPS grid.

The idea that the QPS offers quality prices for animals under 30 months has prompted an increase in the prices for steers and heifers at the ringside with up to €2/kg being freely given.

"These animals will need a minimum of €3.36/kg when they are fit for slaughter," he said.

Irish Independent