17 FEBRUARY 2017
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has called for a joined up approach to maximising the current potential for live exports of sheep. “An integrated strategic plan is required to adequately exploit all those markets where at the moment we only scratch the surface. Planning would involve the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc, Bord Bia, live exporters and producers all working together to develop a coordinated approach.
Many lucrative emerging markets for live exports require intact lambs, that is lambs which have not been castrated nor had their tails docked. They also need to be trained to eat meal so they travel well. All of this requires strategic planning.”
ICSA believes the current restrictions around the holding standstill period for sheep prior to export continues to frustrate the trade. According to Mr Brooks “These restrictions hamper the practicalities of getting exports moving and need urgent adjustment. Similar barriers to trade do not exist for the live export of cattle, so there can be no justification where sheep are concerned.”
Mr Brooks has also criticised Meat Industry Ireland’s recent analysis of the sheep trade in Ireland. In particular, Mr Brooks took exception to the statement that heavy lambs are depressing the return achievable in the market. “This is a feeble response from the meat industry. The meat factories are utilising various pricing policies and penalties in order to maximise the amount of free lamb they are obtaining from farmers. There is no evidence to suggest that they are passing on this ‘free meat’ to the consumer at a discounted price.”
On the issue of British lambs trading at a lower price making them competitive in export markets Mr Brooks said “This is precisely why we are hearing reports of lambs being imported directly from the UK for slaughter here, a cynical ploy by meat factories to depress prices here even further. Indeed, I brought this concern to Minister Creed’s attention at ICSA’s AGM and Annual Conference yesterday in Portlaoise.