'Unforgiving' factories slaughter beef prices
A headline over the weekend read that Lucinda Creighton's fate lay in the hands of 'unforgiving Kenny'.
Welcome to a world similar to that occupied by beef finishers for years Ms Creighton. Irish beef farmers' fate has been in the hands of meat factories for too long – and unforgiving is far too mild an adjective to use when describing them.
Factories were not satisfied just to pull prices this week, they slaughtered them. The tables will show that steer and heifer quotes and prices were pulled by between 5c/kg and 10c/kg over the past week, with the young bulls down by 10-15c/kg.
The drop in a 300kg heifer carcase reflects a loss of between €110-120 or 7-8pc over the past month. To have this happening when there is a shortage of cattle and very strong demand in Britain is difficult to take.
British farmers are still being paid the equivalent of 500c/kg for R4L steers, while the weekly kill here remains below the 27,000hd mark.
It is extremely worrying and makes one fearful of what will happen when the 113,000 extra cattle (aged 12-18months on April 1 this year) come on stream.
Steer prices on the grid seem to have slipped to a range from 420-425c/kg, while the heifers are selling for 435-440c/kg, with 430c/kg mentioned for the non quality assured (QA) types. The QA payment of 12c/kg is on top of the grid price mentioned for suitable stock.
Young bulls have been hit even harder. The best price I heard was 430c/kg for a mix of R and U grades. Quotes for the Us are in the 420-430c/kg bracket, with the Rs at 405-420c/kg. O-grade quotes range from 385-390c/kg.