By James Garner

THE LATEST sheep and cattle prices from the Meat and Livestock Commission reveal that both markets are stuck firmly in the doldrums.

Lamb producers in particular are getting little cheer, as prices fell for the third week in a row. The average R3L grade new season lamb fetched just 213p/kg dw for the week ending 2 June, 12.1p down on the week before.

Trade evidence suggests the market has steadied this week with prices levelling at about 210p/kg. There are a few better quotes, but they take some tracking, say lamb buyers.

And most producers are finding that higher pay outs are coming from abattoirs, whose usual lamb supply has been caught up in foot-and-mouth restricted zones.

These slaughterhouses are offering bonuses of 10p/kg, but transport costs might cancel out any gains.

Additional new-season supplies look likely to hit the market in the coming weeks, provoking fears of further market pressure.

Without an export market, there is little to relieve pressure, apart from some sunny weather and barbecues to stimulate rather flat consumer demand.

Retail promotions would also help shift some volume and stop prices slipping further.

The latest MLC cattle trade report shows a distinct north/south divide, and producers in England and Wales are not getting the rub.

Average R4L grade steers fell again for the week ending 2 June, by just over a 1p to 167p/kg.

Meanwhile, quotes in Scotland remained well ahead of this as supplies north of the border stay tight.

Scottish bullocks are worth a 17p/kg premium, levelling at 184p/kg for the same grade animal.

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