ICSA Sheep chair Sean McNamara has said sheep farmers urgently need answers as to what supports will be forthcoming as prices look set to plummet even further. “Sheep farmers need help; it’s as simple as that. Prices look set to dip below €6/kg this week which is a travesty when you consider how much our input costs have gone up,” he said.
“The sector is in crisis and it’s about time the Government acknowledged this. This time last year we were getting €7.30/kg; to survive this year we need at least a euro more than that but now we are hearing of prices going as low as €5.80/kg from today (Monday).”
Mr McNamara said the influx of New Zealand lamb into the EU as well as the continuous importation of UK lamb into this country is driving local producers out of business. “Imports of New Zealand lamb into China have been halted which is having a massive knock-on effect as New Zealand lamb is now flooding our traditional EU markets. We really need Bord Bia to step up and market our product properly so that consumers will choose Irish lamb above anything else.”
“We also need our processors to show some solidarity with their suppliers. For a start they could stop bringing in so much lamb from the UK – both live, and in carcase form. There is no reason for shipments of UK lamb to be arriving on these shores week after week. It’s a blatant attack on local suppliers because we know it’s being done purely to keep prices here at an unrealistic and unsustainably low level.
This is disgraceful as it’s costing sheep farmers significantly more than ever before to feed concentrates to finish lambs and keep in-lambs ewes fed and healthy. These additional costs need to be factored in by the processors – not ignored.”
“The bottom line is that we need a fair price for our product. A fair price is one that covers our cost of production at the very least. This should not be too much to ask for when we are producing a top quality, nutritious product. However, the reality is that we are further away from a fair price than ever. The sector is at a tipping point and without serious government intervention there is a risk of it being obliterated completely.”
Mr McNamara urged consumers to always choose locally produced Irish lamb. “Nothing compares to Irish lamb in terms of quality, freshness, and taste. Always choose Irish lamb and support local farmers.”