Livestock Reports

Livestock Council Report July 2020

Market Report

  • Latest Beef price update. 02/07/2020. Steer base €3.60/kg. Heifers €3.60/3.70. Young Bulls R/U €3.60/3.65kg. Cows €2.80/3.30/kg.
  • Supplies. 37,329 cattle slaughtered week ended June 28, of which steers were 13,670, heifers 10,869, young bulls 2,907 and cows 9,163. Total YTD slaughter is 869,021 compared to 903,826 in 2019.
  • Official Prices. Irish R3 steer prices for w/e June 21st. was €3.81/kg incl vat. Heifers R3 €3.85/kg. Y Bulls O/R/U €3.45/€3.66/€3.81/kg. Cows P/O/R €2.75/2.87/€3.09/kg.
  • UK cattle prices. AHBD report that UK cattle prices continue to rise strongly up another 2.3p/kg for week ended June 20th.  The UK steer price is at £3.68/kg, equivalent to €4.29/kg incl vat.
  • Official cattle prices reported to the EU Commission on June 21st. R3 Young Bulls c/kg excl vat; EU Average €3.50/kg, Germany €3.55/kg, France €3.65/kg, Spain €3.46/kg, Austria €3.48/kg Italy €3.90/kg Poland €2.84/kg. Steer Prices; Ireland €3.62/kg, UK €4.06/kg. EU Cow price €2.75/kg +2.17c/kg. Heifers €3.65/kg +1.64c/kg.
  • Live Exports. 5,634 cattle were exported in the week commencing 15/6/2020, 3,543 to EU (Except NI). Live exports for 2020 amount to 174,721 compared to 224,472 in 2019.
  • In a positive move on live exports, the Turkish Ministry has recently announced that the live imports of weanling cattle are set to resume in the coming weeks.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work and prices on
  • EU Meat Market Observatory. IFA participated in the EU Commission Meat Market Observatory meeting in Brussels this week, where the Commission said the beef market is recovering slowly from Covid and prices are rising in most member states. EU exports are down 8% for the Jan-Arp period but imports are down 22%. IFA highlighted the major inadequacies in beef market supports in the CAP policy for a crisis like Covid and the ongoing uncertainties from Brexit. In a discussion on Farm to Fork, IFA highlighted the importance of a profitable and sustainable beef sector for rural areas and communities, land use and integration with other sectors like dairy.

10 Reasons Why Cattle Prices Should Rise.

IFA has set out 10 market facts on why cattle prices should rise.

  1. Prices in our main export market in the UK have increased by 44c/kg since April 25th, while Irish prices have only risen by 22c/kg.
  2. AHBD report that UK steer price is at £3.68/kg, equivalent to €4.29/kg incl vat. and continuing to rise, up another 2.3p/kg for the latest reported week ended June 20th.  This is 48c/kg above the Irish price, which amounts to a price differential of €173 on an average steer.
  3. Cattle price across the main EU markets are also recovering with retail sales      continue to show very strong growth and food service coming back as the Covid restrictions are eased.
  4. The Bord Bia prime export benchmark price has moved ahead of the Irish price over the last 2 weeks, showing the improvement in market returns.
  5. Factories agents and procurement managers are very active buying finished cattle in the marts and on line, paying prices that are significantly above their quoted prices.
  6. Northern Ireland factories are very active in the South, paying prices from 10 to 20c/kg above Irish prices.
  7. The R3 steer price in Northern Ireland was £3.61/kg, which is equivalent to €4.20/kg.
  8. The Northern Ireland LMC report that 785 cattle were exported live from the Republic to Northern Ireland for slaughter in the week to June 20.
  9. Department of Agriculture AIMs data on future cattle supplies shows that on May 1st there was a reduction of 83,000 in the number of beef cattle in the 12-24-month category and 10,000 in the 24-36 month category compared to 2019, meaning that supplies over the next number of months will remain much tighter than 2019 levels.
  10. Retail consumption figures for Ireland continue to show very strong growth on beef sales, up 17.4% for the last 12 weeks to May 17th., compared to 2019 levels. In the UK, retail data shows beef volume sales up 22.4% and value sales up 23.1%, for the 12-week period to May 17th compared to 2019, with stake sales up 24% and mince up 36%.

Beef Taskforce

  • IFA attended a Beef Taskforce meeting last week and called on the processors to increase prices in line with increased market returns.
  • IFA pointed out cattle prices in our main export market in the UK have increased by 40c/kg since April 25th, while Irish prices have only risen by 22c/kg.
  • IFA questioned consultants Grant Thornton on the investigation into the supply chain and insisted that the Minister must tell the beef factories and the retailers to co-operate fully and provide all the required price and margin information for this important investigation.
  • IFA also raised issues on the Bord Bia Grass fed and PGI proposals around the lack of proper consultation with farmers and the need for more engagement. The Chairman requested Bord Bia to re-engage and consult more with stakeholders to try and get broader agreement before proceeding.


  • 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.

€50m for Beef Finishers

  • Following a comprehensive assessment of the beef price losses incurred by finishers and detailed submissions to the Department of Agriculture and the EU Commission backed by an intensive lobbying campaign IFA secured Government funding of €50m for beef finishers.
  • IFA has met with the DAFM on how this funding should be allocated and made the following points in a detailed submission.
  1. The scheme must be for cattle finishers and payment targeted at finishers who incurred the most financial losses.
  2. All finished cattle should be covered in the scheme including steers, heifers, young bulls and cows, with the exception of cows with conformation score P and fat score 1 and calves. The Minister has made it clear factory owned and dealer owned cattle will not be covered.
  3. The payment rate must be a minimum of €100 per finished animal.
  4. Payments should apply to finished animals retrospectively from the announcement date by the Minister in order to prevent factories using the support in an anticompetitive way to manipulate prices on cattle going forward.
  5. There should be no restrictive limit on the number of eligible animals per farm which qualify.
  6. The terms and conditions of the scheme must be simple and farmer friendly.
  7. There can be no conditionality attached to the scheme.
  8. The full funding of €50m must be utilised and paid out under the scheme. The terms and conditions must be structured a way to ensure the total funding amount of €50million is paid out to farmers and none of the funds are left unused.
  9. The application process should be simple and opened for farmers to apply immediately.
  10. Payment should be made to all eligible applicants on or before the end of August, so as to ease the severe financial difficulties on finishing farms and also assist the weanling and store cattle trade in the second half of the year.
  11. The payment should apply to all finished cattle sold in the marts, provided those cattle were slaughtered within 30 days of purchase. The payment should go to the farmer who sold the animal regardless of who purchased the animals in the mart.
  12. The payment should apply to finished cattle exported live to Northern Ireland.
  13. The payment should apply to finished cattle exported live to international markets.
  14. It should be structured in such a way under EU state aids approval under the COVID-19 Temporary State Aid Framework so as to ensure all cattle finishers that apply get paid on all eligible cattle.
  15. The scheme should positively accommodate farm partnerships and not in any way discriminate against individual farmer members in partnerships.
  16. IFA is available for further consultation with the Department of Agriculture on the scheme.

Bord Bia Grass Fed Beef Standard and PGI status

  • IFA has met with Tara McCarthy and the Bord Bia team to try and sort out some of the issues around the Grass-fed proposal and PGI status.
  • IFA made it very clear that there needs to be more consultation with farmers and much more clarity around many aspects of the proposals.
  • On Grass fed, young bulls have to be treated the same as any other category of animals and measured against the same criteria. Making young bulls ineligible before they are even accessed against the criteria is not right.
  • IFA also sought clarification on a number of other aspects of the Grass-fed proposals including the ‘exclusion’ of the first 9 months of the animal’s life.
  • The PGI proposals need a more fundamental rethink. There are key issues around ownership and guarantees that price premiums will be paid back to farmers that have to be sorted out.

Activity since last Council

  • IFA National Livestock Management Meeting June 16th.
  • National Livestock Meeting June 18th.
  • Meetings with DAFM on €50m Beef Finisher Scheme.
  • Meeting with Bord Bia on Grass fed and PGI status.
  • Intensive IFA lobby of all politicians on the €50m Beef Finishers Scheme.

EU/COPA Developments

  • Meat Market Observatory Meeting with EU Commission.
  • Conference call/meetings with EU DG Agri, COPA Beef Group, FNB – French beef farmers and Polish, Belgium, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese beef farmers.

BovINE Project.

  • IFA is involved with Teagasc, other EU 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.

Upcoming Issues/priorities

  • Campaign for a cattle price increase.
  • Allocation and terms and conditions for the €50m Beef Finishers Scheme
  • EU Beef and Sheep Update. Weekly update on email, for distribution to IFA what’s app and web on beef and sheep issues and action.
  • Budget 2021 submission and supports for beef farmers and sucklers.
ChairmanBrendan Golden
Director of LivestockKevin Kinsella

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