Figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) confirm that Irish cattle prices dropped by 0.2 per cent between December 2013 and January 2014. The equivalent figure, covering the period September 2013 to the beginning of February this year is 1.7 per cent.

“The year-on-year figure of 5.7 per cent is significant,” confirmed CSO statistician Susan O’Connor.

“The cattle prices are a weighted average of animals going through the marts and slaughterhouses. The figures that we have published today are final, where cattle are concerned. They may be amended for milk retrospectively, if the dairies pay a bonus subsequent to the monthly milk cheques having been distributed.”

The latest CSO figures also confirm the pressure that pig farmers are under at the present time is. Prices for finished pigs fell by 5.4 per cent between December 13 and January 14. The year-on-year differential in producer prices up to the end of January this year is 7.2 per cent.

On the plus side for livestock farmers the CSO figures confirm a significant reduction in cereal and feed prices over the past 12 months. The drop for straights and compound feeds are 11.4 per cent and 18.8 per cent respectively. Fertiliser prices fell by four per cent year on year up to the end of January last. The specific figures for straights and compounds are minus 5.1 per cent and minus 3.3 per cent respectively.

CSO statistician O’ Connor was not in a position to give any insights into the possible agricultural price index trends for February 2014. This period will cover the onset of the crisis that has hit the beef industry so hard over recent weeks.

All of the agri index figures published by the CSO relate to farm gate prices with Vat excluded.

The general agricultural output price index decreased by 0.8 per cent in January 2014 compared with December 2013. Meanwhile, the agricultural input price index decreased by 0.4 per cent over the same period. Thus, the resulting terms of trade index decreased by 0.4 per cent in January 2014. On an annual basis, the agricultural output price index in January 2014 was 1.0 per cent lower than in January 2013. The agricultural input price index was down 5.3 per cent in January 2014 compared with January 2013.