Beef & Sheep Update 22nd May

Sheep and Cattle in Wicklow


  • Latest Beef price update 21/5/2020. Steer base price €3.60/kg. Heifers €3.60/3.70. Young bull’s R/O €3.60/3.70. Cows P/O/R/U €2.90/€3.00/€3.20/kg.
  • Cattle prices continue to strengthen driven by tighter supplies and strong retail demand. Factories chasing tight supplies, offering deals which include the full cost of transport, removal of weight restrictions and additional price top ups. The supply balance has swung in favour of the farmer.
  • Supplies. Supplies totalled 26,911 for week ending May 17th., down about 5,900 on the same week last year. Kill to date down 31,683 on 2019 levels. Y Bulls are back 30k, steers are up +10k, heifers are down -6k and cows are back -15k. However, when calves are removed, the overall adult kill is back closer to 46,000 head.
  • Numbers over the coming weeks expected to remain tight until the first of the grass cattle set to arrive.
  • Official Prices. DAFM reported Irish R3 steer prices for w/e May 10th was €3.67/kg incl vat. Heifers R3 €3.70/kg. Y Bulls O/R/U €3.33/€3.52/€3.61/kg. Cows P/O/R €2.72/€2.80/€2.99/kg.
  • UK cattle prices for w/e May 17th. AHBD report a 6p/kg rise in prices. R3 steers at £3.36/kg, equivalent to €3.96/kg incl vat. Heifers were up 6.4p/kg, Young bulls were up 5.4p/kg and cows were up 8.7p/kg, with -O4L at £2.43/kg equivalent to €2.86/kg.
  • Official cattle prices reported to the EU Commission on May 1`7th 2020. R3 Young Bulls c/kg excl vat; EU Average €3.42/kg, Germany €3.37/kg, France €3.63/kg, Spain €3.46/kg, Austria €3.45/kg Italy €3.84/kg Poland €2.68/kg. Steer Prices; Ireland €3.55/kg, UK €3.80/kg.
  • EU Young bull prices are up 1.86/kg on the week and EU steers are up 4.78/kg on the previous week, with cows up 1.00c/kg and heifers up 4.49c/kg.
  • The resumption of some manufacturing plants and some reopening of food service at EU level has helped the trade. The reopening of McDonalds and Supermacs drive-through helped the cow trade.
  • APS. Irish processors applied for only 20 tonnes of APS. Total applications across the EU of 706 tonnes with 400t from Poland, 230t from Holland, 46t from Spain and 10t from Austria.
  • Live Exports. 4,648 cattle were exported in the week commencing 04/5/2020, 3,822 to EU (Except NI). Live exports for 2020 amount to 144,977 compared to 186,276 in 2019.
  • Calf exports of 112,383 year to date.
  • There were considerable difficulties with the Algerian live export trade over recent weeks, involving loading delays, payment difficulties and delays on the first shipment. IFA assisted up to about 15 farmers getting paid in full.
  • When the boat, the MV Sarah returned for the second shipment, difficulties occurred between the exporter and the DAFM on horned cattle, individual weighing and withdrawal periods on medications.
  • Working with the exporter and the DAFM, IFA asked Minister Creed to intervene directly, which he did and all of these issues were subsequently resolved but shipments were delayed and along with TB difficulties on some farms the exporter was unable to proceed and cancelled the shipment. The livestock carrier has left Ireland empty.
  • IFA Payment Policy. Insist on payment on the day, or ensure that you are selling through an outlet where payment is guaranteed or secure.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work on
  • Beef Taskforce. Chairman Michael Dowling wrote to IFA this week with an update on the various issues including the Grant Thornton reports into specifications and a breakdown of the beef price across the chain.
  • IFA has called for the marts to be reopened as soon as possible. IFA also pushing for support for the marts.
  • BEEP-S. Just over 27,000 farmers applied for the BEEP-S scheme, following an intensive campaign by IFA. It is estimated that some c600,000 cows are involved, which will require funding of c€52m as opposed to the €35m allocated, if a linear cut to the payment rates of €90 per cow on the first 10 and €80 on the remainder are to be avoided.
  • Support for Beef Farmers. Finishers Income. Finishers are still shipping serious losses. IFA will continue to push Minister Creed, the Government and the EU Commission hard to secure a direct payment for finishers to cover the COVID-19 and Brexit losses on cattle sold this year.
  • At the EU Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels Minister Creed sought exceptional aid for livestock producers under Articles 219 & 221 of CMO due to serious falls in prices. However, IFA is strongly of the view Minister Creed and the EU Commission must secure new money to deal with the COVID crisis.
  • IFA continue to lobby TDs and push Minister Creed and Government for a direct payment scheme to make up for the COVID and Brexit related cattle price losses incurred this Spring, including release of the €24m in unspent BEAM funding to assist beef finishers, who have incurred losses in the order of €200 per head.
  • Bord Bia Grass Based Beef and PGI status.
  • Bord Bia has prepared proposals for an Irish Grass Fed Beef and PGI status application.
    In summary the proposals cover animals who meet the following key criteria;

    • The majority of feed from grass (90% grass or grass forage throughout the animal’s lifetime)
    • Spend greater part of their life grazing (minimum of 220 days per year).
    • Steers/heifers up to 36 months of age, Grade O- or better and fat score 2+ to 4+.
    • Beef cows up to 120 months with conformation of O+ or better and fat score 2+ to 5.
    • Born, reared, finished and slaughtered in the geographical area.
  • Budget 2021 Proposals
  • 2019 Brexit Beef Price Losses

In line with the methodology used to calculate BEAM 1, IFA has calculated Brexit related cattle prices losses for beef farmers who sold cattle between May 2019 (when BEAM 1 ended) and December 31 2019.

These calculations compared 2015 cattle prices(pre-Brexit) with 2019 prices.

2019 – Brexit related price losses from May 12th to Dec 31st 2019 (BEAM II) = €160m.

  • 2020 Brexit and COVID-19 Beef Price Losses

Since January 2020 finisher have continued to encounter Brexit related cattle price losses. However, from mid-March finishers were hit with a second wave of COVID-19 market disturbance beef price losses, which compounded their overall losses. Using the same methodology IFA has calculated the Brexit related and COVID-19 related beef price losses as follow from Jan 1st 2020 to May 17th 2020 as follows.

Brexit related price losses: €89.8m

COVID-19 related price losses: €21.2m

Overall Brexit/COVID-19 losses:€111m up to May 17th 2020.

2020 – Brexit and COVID-19 related beef price losses from Jan 1 to May 17. 2020= €111m.

  • Support for Suckers

The national suckler cow herd of almost 1 million cows is the backbone of Ireland’s beef and livestock sector worth up to €3bn, providing top quality beef to make Ireland the fifth largest beef exporter in the world. The suckler beef sector also delivers essential socio-economic and environmental services and public goods, as well as providing a major carbon sink.

The support schemes for the suckler cow (BDGP and BEEP) have proven to be essential in terms of economic support and in improving efficiencies on environmental performance and delivery.

IFA proposes:

  • Suckler farmers need a targeted payment of €300 per cow, facilitated by a combination of CAP and national funding.
  • For 2020, a total of 27,000 suckler farmers have applied for the BEEP-S scheme, with up to 600,000 cows. At the payment rates of €90 on the first 10 cows and €80 on the remainder, the funding costs of this scheme will be €52m in 2020, as opposed to the €35m allocated in Oct 2019. Therefore, this scheme will need a budget injection of an additional €17m for 2020
  • The last annual payment under the current BDGP scheme is due in Nov/Dec 2020 and the BEEP-S scheme is an annual scheme.
  • For 2021, the IFA is proposing the BDGP is renewed and simplified with funding increased from €45m to €90m pa and the BEEP-S scheme is funded to the tune of €52m pa.
  • This would provide total funding of €142m pa for sucklers and enable payment rates of €290 per cow on the first 10 cows and €250 per cow on the remainder.


  • BovINE Project.
  • IFA is involved with Teagasc, farm organisations and research and advisory bodies across 10 EU member states in an EU funded Innovation network project focused on facilitating improved knowledge exchange and co-ordinated solutions on socio-economic resilience, animal health and welfare, production efficiency and quality and environmentally sustainability.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work on



  • Lamb Price. Latest Lamb Price Update. 21/5/2020. Supplies meeting demand. Retail sales and the end of Ramadan driving trade. Factories paying €6.20/6.30 for spring lambs. Hogget’s coming to an end at €5.50/5.60. Ewes €2.50/2.80/kg.
  • Changeover. The changeover from hogget’s to new season lamb has effectively happened, with the kill now on 60% New season and 40% hogget’s.
  • Supplies.Spring lambs now exceed hogget’s w/e May 10th below. This is the latest full weekly data from DAFM as there has been a delay in data submission due to COVID, in some plants. Data for w/e May 17th will show a higher spring lamb kill.
  • Supplies are expected to rise quickly as the new season lambs becomes fit and ready for sale. The advice is as always – move lambs as they become fit.
  • COVID-19 and Numbers. Major concern about prices when new season lamb numbers rise and the market impact from the COVID-19 crisis is fully felt. The closure of the foodservice sector across the EU is a major blow to the markets.
  • Lamb is a high value product and needs high value outlets such as restaurants.
  • In the UK for week ending May 10th hogget’s were £4.71/kg equivalent to €5.58/kg. New season lambs were on £5.14/kg, equivalent to €6.09/kg incl vat.
  • APS – no uptake to date at EU level. The restrictions limiting access to carcases and half carcases as opposed to cuts is an issue which IFA highlighted to the DAFM and Commission. APS may be needed as supply numbers increase and depending on the recovery in the food service markets.
  • Ramadan April 23rd to May 23rd. Eid al-Adha July 20th. to Aug 3rd.
  • Main New season Bord Bia Lamb TV promotions due to kick in on the first week of June.
  • New Zealand lamb exports have been hit hard by COVID-19, with EU exports for the month of April down 28% and exports year to date back 47%, mainly due to the closure of the food services sector.
  • IFA will continue to publish lamb prices twice weekly and all of the latest data is on
  • In conjunction with COPA at EU level, the IFA has lobbied for the following measures for the sheep sector. Immediately support farmers with direct payments for any price related market losses, APS for market support, review and suspend non-EU imports during the COVID-19 crisis, a new EU promotional programme for lamb targeted at retail level.
  • Budget 2021 Proposal. With 34,000 flock owners, sheep farming is the second largest sector in terms of farm numbers. The sector has an output of €450m with exports of 55,000t to 35 different countries.
  • The Sheep Welfare Scheme has been very positive and effective; sheep are major contributors to environmental preservation, particularly in hill and mountainous areas. The four-year scheme is due to conclude in Dec 2020.
  • IFA Proposal; A targeted payment of €30 per ewe through a combination of CAP and national funding for sheep farmers. Across the national flock of 2.57 million ewes, this would require funding of €77m pa.
  • Government Formation. €30 per ewe. IFA are lobbying for a targeted direct payment of €30 per ewe to be included in the Programme for Government as committed to by the political parties during the election campaign.
  • EU/NZ Trade Talks. The seventh round of EU negotiations with New Zealand on a new trade deal took place between March 30th and April 9th. EU are now discussing a 3,000t beef TRQ at 7.5% tariff and a safeguard clause on lamb.


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