Image courtesy of Las fotos de Annie via Flickr
This article first appeared in The Irish Examiner on 19th May 2021
Latest prices from Macroom, Kanturk, Dungarvan, Skibbereen, Bandon and Kilmallock
Earlier this week, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, welcomed farmers back to the mart.
Wasn’t he’s the lucky man that we stuck around during Covid and didn’t bailout. We generated €3.4bn of exports for Ireland last year.
And these days, we are just being strung along, with €20 an animal paid out from one scheme and a few more bob from another, said a suckler farmer to me during the week.
He has come to the conclusion that he will never become a millionaire from the business. I didn’t put up much of a struggle in disagreeing with the man. He was preaching to the converted.
The problem with farming in general today is that it has become stifled with bureaucracy and restrictions. Our every move is monitored, analysed and recorded. Then, at various times, criticised and sometimes penalised.
Our freedom to farm as individuals has been utterly eroded. You can’t own a sheep, cow or hen in Ireland today without someone in a faraway office knowing about it.
Even if they don’t know a Rhode Island Red from a Norwegian Red, they know what you have. And you know they know. Obviously, agriculture needs to be monitored to some degree.
But the degree to which we are currently analysed makes the business and our way of life very unappealing. When I was growing up, I always had the dream of making it big as a farmer.
Back then, you were allowed dream. Well, that dream is dead for me, and it’s not because I’m going grey in the head, but because I have become tired of the tedious bureaucratic jargon, the mumbo jumbo, the constant examination of every move we make on the land.
What made farming the wonderful profession it was in the past was the freedom to farm. The freedom of choice. Our choices are now already made for us. The freedom to farm as individuals is no more.
And so the suckler farmer will be paid €20 for this animal and a few bob more for something else. Just enough to keep the wolf from the door, but far too little to encourage him to dream big.
Farming today is policed by too many bureaucrats and not half enough visionaries. Charlie can welcome farmers back to the mart all he likes, but if he wants to know the real truth, the mart restrictions were only the tip of the iceberg.
And so to the marts we go, beginning this week with Macroom mart where on Saturday cattle numbers on offer we’re back with prices also showing a little slippage.
Suckler stock in Macroom sold from €1000 to €1740 per lot.
Dry cows made from €115 to €770 with the kilo. Friesian bullocks in Macroom sold from €1.60/kg to €1.95/kg.
Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bullocks in Macroom sold from €2/kg to €2.40/kg. Continental bullocks sold from €2/kg to €2.30/kg. Heifers made from €2.10/kg to €2.55/kg.
Bandon mart on Monday had 950 calves on offer with Friesian bull calves selling from €80 to €235 for stronger lads.
Continental calves made up to a staggering €525 a head.
Dry cows in Bandon sold from €135 to €580 with the kilo.
Friesian bullocks sold from €125 to €595 with the kilo. Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks sold from €540 to €920 with the kilo.
Continental bullocks sold from €270 to €888 with their weight. Heifers made from €215 to €820 with the kilo.
Kanturk cattle sale on Tuesday was a lively affair as mart manager Seamus O’Keeffe reports.
“The competition between ringside and online customers here at Kanturk mart on Tuesday was very strong. The price of the day was for 7 Aberdeen Angus bullocks weighing 315kgs making €750 (€2.38/kg).
“Customers were paying top prices for good cattle and they are very much in demand.
“We had a full house on Tuesday with over 1000 cattle, including 400 calves, on offer. Ringside was open to buyers and it was fantastic to be able to welcome our customers back again.”
Ger Flynn, Dungarvan mart manager, reported “The dry cow trade is holding firm with a good demand for forward dry cows.
“And while the price for store heifers and bullocks is a shade easier, stronger cattle are holding well.”
Kilmallock mart reported “a super heifer trade” after Monday’s mart sale. How super were they?
Well, light heifers made up to €2.98 per kg, heavier types hit €2.47 per kg.
Overall, 1600 cattle were sold at Kilmallock this week. Bullocks sold for up to €1700 a head or €2.39 per kg.
Weanlings made up to €1090 a head or €2.54 per kg. Dry cows hit €1580 a head or €2.16 per kg.
Up to €480 was paid in the calf ring. At the dairy sale on Tuesday up to €1720 was paid for calved stock. Up to €860 was paid for breeding heifers.
In Skibbereen on Friday dry cows sold from €80 to €1150 with the kilo.
Heifers in Skibbereen sold from €260 to €725, while weanling bulls sold from €240 to €570 with the kilo. Hereford and Aberdeen Angus bullocks sold from €250 to €525 with the kilo.
Continental bullocks sold from €330 to €745 with their weight.
Calves Kanturk mart Tuesday 18th May
Fr bulls €65 – €145
Fr heifers €130 – €410
Hr/AA bulls €165 – €400
Hr/AA heifers €450 – €300
Author Denis Lehane