As we look back on 2019 it will not be remembered as a good year especially for farmers involved in dry stock.
Prices at the start of the year were bearable but from mid-May onwards farmer frustration was visible as factories started to dictate terms and this led to tension between both sides.
The main producers found themselves in a very difficult position.
If they had over-age cattle, bulls or cull cows, they were put on a waiting list.
Then if the factories decided to take their animals they restricted what they would take.
It was no wonder that as we got into autumn the financial constraints that farmers producing beef were under, finally came to the surface with factories being picketed and the supply chain being disrupted.
Anger was evident on both sides and the initial meeting between the factories and different farming bodies was called off due to demonstrations against the beef factory representatives.
This meeting eventually took place a few weeks ago but promises by factories were slow to be implemented.
Looking across world markets it appears that the Irish farmer is the only one not receiving these benefits.
I feel numbers are tightening and as I have often said the market is always dictated by supply and demand.
In the next few weeks factories will need to start competing for numbers and farmers should remember those factories who took supplies from them and those factories who treated them with contempt.
Perhaps the farmer will finally have a say rather than begging agents to take their product.
Our first cattle sale of 2020 will be Thursday, January 9.
The sheep trade has remained solid this week with a good trade for all lambs on Monday.
Butcher types peaked at €116 with an average price of €114.
Factory types averaged €101 per head with a top call of €108 and cull ewes peaked at €140 per head.
Our first sheep sale of 2020 will be Monday, January 6.
It was sad to see a few long established sheep producers exiting the stage this year but sheep farming is a difficult physical job and as we get older it becomes less appealing.
We wish them good health as the exit this sector of farming.
Monday’s dairy sale was difficult with calved stock peaking at €1,460 with maiden heifers to a top of €750.
Our next dairy sale is Monday, January 13, 2020.