Farmers hold out for more, as steer quotes drop to 375c/kg

There is mounting pressure on factories to pay more for beef cattle, as farmers are bargaining hard when it comes to selling their stock.

This week, the majority of factories have moved to lower steer and heifer quotes to 375c/kg and 385c/kg respectively.

However, this move is being met with some reservations and farmers are insisting on 380-385c/kg for steers and 390-395c/kg for heifers before even considering sanctioning deals.

In a bid to try and halt the beef price drop, which has seen almost €100 wiped off base steer quotes since late July, representatives of the IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) met with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) – the body representing beef factories – late last week.

IFA President, Joe Healy said the IFA made it abundantly clear to the meat factory representatives that anger is rising among farmers over the speed and severity of beef price cuts over the last month.

He added that the €100/head cut in cattle prices had gone too far and it’s essential that stability and confidence is restored at farm level.

Meat factories need to invest in their farmer supplies, he said, at this time of uncertainty in the market with currency fluctuations.

Cow prices hold steady

Despite the sharp decline in prime cattle quotes over recent weeks, cow prices have remain largely unchanged.

Like last week, most plants are offering 310c/kg for P-grade cows, 320c/kg for O-grade cows and farmers are being offered 340-350c/kg for R-grading animals.

Inclement weather sees supplies swell

Cattle supplies have swelled in recent weeks on the back of inclement weather, which has seen ground conditions deteriorate in many areas.

Some 34,836 cattle were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved plants during the week ending August 27 – an increase of 320 head or 1% compared the the week earlier.

Steers and heifers accounted for 74% of all of the animals slaughtered during the week ending August 27. Steer throughput climbed by 4.5%, heifer numbers rose by just 0.1% and the young bull kill jumped by 1.5%.

However, there was some reduction in the number of aged bulls (-1.2%) and cows (-6.7%) slaughtered during the week ending August 27.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending August 27):
  • Young bulls: 2,510 head (+37 head or +1.5%);
  • Bulls: 647 head (-8 head or -1.2%);
  • Steers: 16,900 head (+722 head or +4.5%);
  • Cows: 6,445 head (-464 head or -6.7%);
  • Heifers: 8,272 head (+5 head or +0.1%);
  • Total: 34,836 head (+320 head or +1%).

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British beef trade remained relatively steady last week, as demand remained firm and supplies were relatively tight.

Looking at prices from the AHDB, British R4L steers made the equivalent of 420.29c/kg during the week ending August 29. In addition, prices of 414c/kg and 395c/kg were obtained for R3 heifers in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Moving to France, Bord Bia says little change was reported in the market last week; but, it’s hoped that the reopening of schools and businesses after the holiday season will help the trade.