August 5, 2011


Irish farmers resist cattle price decrease



Irish beef processors are facing resistance from farmers as they attempt to relieve prices for cattle this week.


Some processors have eased this week's prices quoted for cattle by as much as EUR0.05/kg (US$0.07), but are finding it increasingly difficult to get sufficient cattle without paying last week's going rates.


Most processors must pay EUR3.60-3.65/kg (US$5.07-5.15) as a base price for steers, and there are some reports of EUR0.05-0.08/kg (US$0.07-0.11) being negotiated by sellers for better quality animals. Reports from around the country indicate that factory agents are under instructions not to pay over the quoted prices for cattle, but there are counter reports of flat pricing to secure stock.


In general, heifer prices are hovering closer to the steer prices this week, with base quotes for the heifers ranging from EUR3.60-3.70/kg (US$5.07-5.22). The margin seems similar in the actual prices being paid for the heifers, generally commanding EUR0.05/kg (US$0.07) more than steers across the range. The heifer top-up has slipped by at least EUR0.03/kg (US$0.04).


The tightness of the cattle supply is keeping processors under pressure. The estimated kill for last week was about 26,700 head, which reflected the usual Galway Races effect on intake. And with grass in plentiful supply, and prices holding strong, farmers in general are in no rush to dispose of cattle, making it harder than usual for processors to boost the supply.


All indications point to the supply of beef cattle remaining tight for the rest of the year. Some sources in the processing sector are laying the blame for slack supplies on the QPS grid.

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