Cattle prices starting to rise - but a long way to go says IFA

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Cattle prices starting to rise - but a long way to go says IFA

IFA National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said cattle prices are beginning to rise, with prices up 5c/kg to 10c/kg at most outlets this week.

“Based on the major increase in price returns from our main export market in the UK, there is room for factories to increase prices a lot more.”

“While some factories continue to quote last week’s price, prices have moved on and factories are paying 5c to 10c/kg more, with the steer base price at €3.65/kg and heifers at €3.70/3.75/kg”.

The IFA National Livestock Chairman said factories are very anxious for stock and are telling agents to leave nothing behind.

“Most of the shed cattle are sold at this stage and the grass cattle are thriving well, with no pressure to sell because of the new burst of grass growth.”

Brendan Golden said the Department of Agriculture official figures on cattle supplies from the AIMS data show that beef cattle numbers on farms on May 1st are down 93,000 head compared to last year. “This means finished cattle numbers will be tighter over the coming weeks and months.”

The latest data from the UK shows that cattle prices have increased dramatically over the last two months of May and June, by the equivalent of almost 40c/kg.

“The latest R3 steer price for the UK for week ended June 27th is £3.67/kg, which is equivalent to €4.27/kg. This is 47c/kg above Irish prices and amounts to a price differential of €170 per head.”

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of ICMSA’s Livestock Committee has said that he had “no doubt” that factories should be paying more than they are at present for cattle.

“The number of finished cattle will tighten going forward.

“As of 1 May, the number of male cattle over 12 months of age is 68,000 less than 1 May 2019 and in the case of beef female cattle, 25,000 less.

“In total, this is 93,000 less cattle over 12 months of age for the rest of this year. Markets have recovered from the Covid shock, demand is stronger, and supplies will be tighter for the rest of this year”, said Des Morrison.

Mr. Morrison said that in our major market, the UK, beef prices are reported to have surged over the last few weeks due to increased retail demand with prices now 40 cent per kg or €150 per head above Irish prices.

“That kind of differential cannot simply be explained away by the usual excuses from meat plants.

“Demand is increasing strongly at retail level and, as the food-services side re-opens and starts ‘going through the gears’, there is strong reason for optimism”, he continued.

“Northern Irish and British prices are significantly ahead of ours and factory agents are paying more for finished cattle at the marts than farmers would be able to get if they went direct to the factories with those same cattle.

“Factories are willing to pay more at marts for cattle than they are to their direct suppliers and this simply needs to change by bringing beef quotes up to the market level.

“This current practice makes a laugh of the factories PR speak about building relationships with suppliers and it is no wonder there is such a lack of confidence in the current relationship”, said Mr. Morrison.

“We’ve no doubt that factory prices could go up substantially. Beef prices should be increased immediately,” he said.