SPURIOUS WEIGHT LIMITS HITTING THE SPRING LAMB TRADE

25 MAY 2018

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has called on meat factories to up the weight limit for payment on spring lamb. Mr Brooks said, “Currently, the weight limit is ridiculously low at 20.5kg when it really should be a minimum of 22kg. The spurious weight limits being imposed by processors also means that farmers are having to sell lambs too early.”

Continuing Mr Brooks said, “ICSA understands the butcher trade, which has traditionally underpinned the spring lamb trade, have been frustrated with lambs being marketed too light through the marts. Ideally, they are looking for carcass weights of 22+kg but with meat factories conditioning farmers into dubious lower weight limits, lambs at this optimum weight are scarce.”

“These overly harsh weight limits are also beginning to really hit hard now that we have seen factories imposing an unjustifiable €10 /head price drop this week. Factories have been far too quick to talk down the trade and indeed there are signals of a further unjustifiable price drop next week.”

Mr Brooks has also called on Minister Creed to pay out the balance owed to farmers through the Sheep Welfare Scheme as a matter of urgency. “Balancing payments have been promised but so far have failed to materialise for many. ICSA understands that delays of up until the end of June are possible which is totally unacceptable.”

“In addition, Minister Creed needs to make an allowance for culling non-productive ewes at this time. This would require flexibility within the scheme but it is absolutely necessary to prevent a crash in ewe prices later in the year. With fodder and cashflow problems plaguing farmers this year, having to hold on to unproductive ewes makes no sense at all. Farmers should be allowed to sell theses ewes now with the provision to get their numbers back up by mid-September and still remain compliant with the scheme and avoid penalties.”

ENDS