IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said cattle prices are improving with more feeders getting a base of €4.20/kg on steers and €4.30 base on heifers. He said numbers have tightened again this week and feeders who are digging in hard and holding out are getting the reward.
Henry Burns said factories are finding it a lot more difficult to get stock this week and having to offer well over quoted prices to get the volume. He said feeders are moving agents off the €4.15 base on steers and the €4.25 base on heifers.
The IFA Livestock leader said bulls are making €4.10 for Rs and €4.20 for Us with €4.25/kg paid in places. He said cows continue a good trade ranging from €3.40 to €4.00 tops. He said good R grade cows are making a top price of €3.90/kg.
Henry Burns said cattle price prospects for 2015 are much more positive based on tighter supplies of 150,000 head, strong UK market returns and a continuing strong sterling exchange rate.
Henry Burns said tighter supplies should tip the supply/demand balance firmly in favour of farmers and strengthen their selling power. With sterling at the low 70’s against the Euro and strong UK prices, Irish factories should be able to return viable prices to farmers throughout 2015. IFA provide weekly price updates on the iFarm app.
Henry Burns said the live export trade is crucial for price competition and keeping a balance in supplies. He said IFA has worked hard on an active live trade for dairy calves this spring to avoid a repeat of 2014 problems in 2016/17. “Farmers need to do their figures taking account of the price of calves, beef prices and production costs. They should talk to the factories and see will they commit on beef prices for 2 years’ time.”
IFA is very determined that Minister Coveney delivers on the full implementation of the Beef Forum. “We must have strong delivery on the issues that will make a difference for farmers” according to Henry Burns. On the 30-month age limit, he said there is no scientific basis for this. The vast majority of the key retail and food service customers of Irish beef have no issue with 36 months. The factories unfairly use the age limit against farmers in the autumn and it must be changed.
On specifications, Henry Burns said in Ireland we have to maximise grass based production and our competitive advantage. “All our marketing, including Origin Green, is based on grass. We can’t ask farmers to produce to specs which can’t be achieved off grass.” Henry Burns said we would be mad to go down a road of one spec fits all. In the beef forum, weight limits and price cuts are parked up at least until Jan 2015. He said weight limits are a major issue for the suckler herd.
The IFA Livestock leader said farm movements and residency are critically important for the mart trade. The Department has agreed to change the way the AIMS system records the number of farm residencies for the in spec bonus. He said an animal that spends his life on a Quality Assured farm should not lose his QA status just because he is sold through a mart.
Henry Burns said in the Beef forum, IFA made a genuine move to ensure every animal from a quality assured farm receives a QA price payment. The response from the factories of €3 per head is not seen as serious or genuine. He said Minister Coveney has demanded the meat factories relook at this.
IFA is very determined to make progress on carcase trim from the Beef Forum. The Department Agricultural Officers in the meat plants must be responsible for the daily monitoring of the trim. In addition, the grading needs to be more transparent and it is unacceptable that farmers have no recourse to an appeal under mechanical classification.
The IFA Livestock leader said our suckler cow herd is the backbone of our beef sector. The new €100/80 per cow beef genomics scheme is very positive and needs to open without any further delay. He said IFA is proposing that direct payments should be increased to €200 per head in order to maintain the suckler herd.