IFA Beef and Sheep Update 15th May


  • Cattle Price Update. 15/5/2020. Prices rising. Steer base €3.50/3.55. Some €3.60/kg. Heifers €3.50/3.60. Some €3.70/kg. Y Bulls R/U €3.50/3.60/kg. Cows €2.80/3.30/kg.
  • Supplies totalled 25,947 for week ending May 10th, down about 3,750 on the same week last year. Kill to date down 26,000 or 4% on 2019 levels.
  • Cattle prices continue to strengthen driven by tighter supplies and strong retail demand. Procurement managers and agents chasing stock, 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 and feeders should dig in hard and negotiate a strong premium above the quoted base price as well as transport and other specifications.
  • Finishers are still shipping serious losses. IFA will continue to push Minister Creed hard to secure a direct payment for finishers to cover the COVID-19 and Brexit related losses on cattle sold this year.
  • 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 10th R3 steers at £3.31/kg, equivalent to €3.92/kg incl vat. R3 heifers at £3.30, equivalent to €3.91/kg and O3 cows at £2.43, equivalent to €2.87 incl vat.
  • Official cattle prices reported to the EU Commission on May 10th 2020. R3 Young Bulls c/kg excl vat; EU Average€3.40/kg, Germany €3.37/kg, France €3.64/kg, Spain €3.46/kg, Austria €3.51/kg Italy €3.67/kg Poland €2.62/kg. Steer Prices; Ireland €3.48/kg, UK €3.76/kg.
  • EU Young bull prices are down 1.84c/kg on the week and EU steers are up 3.3/kg on the previous week, with cows down 2.0c/kg and heifers down 1.0c/kg.
  • The latest Bord Bia Price Tracking data for w/e May 9th.

  • 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.
  • MV Sarah live export boat was still anchored off Waterford port on Friday 15th but there were some hopeful signs of a resolution to the problems.
  • IFA Payment Policy; Iinsist on payment on the day, or ensure that you are selling through an outlet where payment is guaranteed or secure.
  • BEEP-S €90/€80 per suckler cow scheme applications exceed 26,000 as of May 15th closing date.


  • Lamb Price Update. 15/5/2020. Spring lamb at €6.20/6.30/kg. Carcase weights up to 20.5/21kgs. Hogget’s €5.60/5.70. Ewes €2.70/2.90/kg.
  • Strong trade, driven by retail demand, tight supplies and the end of Ramadan.
  • Sales for w/e May 10th. totaled 42,475 and included 21,112 spring lamb and 14,461 hoggets’, ewes of 6.798.
  • With disposals at 60% spring lamb and 40% hogget’s, retailers and buyers are making the move to switch over to spring lamb.
  • In the UK for week ending May 10th hoggets were £4.71/kg equivalent to €5.58/kg. New season lambs were on £5.14/kg, equivalent to €6.09/kg incl vat.
  • No APS applied for on lamb by any country at EU level.
  • Sheep Census 2019. 34,938 sheep farmers with 3.8 million sheep on 31st December 2019, including 2.57 million breeding ewes over 12 months of age.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • IFA continues to lobby for the following measures in 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.
  • In addition, 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.

General Issues

  • The continuing rise in cattle prices is more positive. Base prices are now at €3.50/3.60 for steers and €3.55/3.70 for heifers. Supplies are very tight.
  • Minister Creed sought exceptional aid for livestock producers under Articles 219 & 221 of CMO due to serious falls in prices at the EU Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels this week. However, 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.
  • 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.
  • Positive news that some McDonalds drive through restaurants will reopen next week.
  • As of Friday morning, over 25,000 suckler farmers had applied for the BEEP-S scheme, which is worth €80/90 per suckler cow.
  • IFA has called for the marts to be reopened as soon as possible. IFA also pushing for support for the marts.
  • On live exports, there are some positive signs that the problems relating to the Sarah M livestock boat are being resolved and a sailing is being planned again for next week. Earlier this week IFA called on Minister Creed to intervene and resolve the issues between the Department and the exporter on the Algerian trade.
  • Security of payment is vital for farmers selling cattle. IFA policy to insist on payment on the day, or ensure that you are selling through an outlet where payment is guaranteed or secure. Sell through a local licensed mart where you know your payment is secure, or insist on payment upfront on the day is the best approach.
  • National Livestock Committee meeting was held week by conference call. Key issues included cattle prices, direct aid for finishers, Government formation and lobbying of TDs, Live exports, Bord Bia, Marts and AOB.
  • 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.
  • Key dates; EU launch Green Deal Farm to Fork policy details on May 20th. EU Budget, MFF and COVID recovery package on May 27th.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work on ifa.ie/covid19.

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