CORK sheep farmers and chairman of the IFA Sheep Committee Sean Dennehy, from Carrigdrohid, met with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the main sheep processing factories including Irish Country Meats (ICM), Kepak, Kildare Chilling and Dawn Meats in Dublin last week.
‘The need for a strong viable lamb prices and market prospects for 2020 were top of the agenda. In addition, we discussed specifications, quality assurance, EID implementation, and factory charges and sheep policy issues,’ according to Mr Dennehy
He said IFA made it very clear to the factories that incomes on sheep farmers were under severe pressure and lamb price needed to continue to rise in order to provide a viable income for farmers: ‘IFA were very strong in the argument that carcase weight limits were way too restrictive at the factories and new season lamb needed to open at a minimum carcase weight of 21kg.
‘We discussed the need for a lot more work by the government in opening the important Chinese and US markets to Irish lamb exports.’
Sean Dennehy said farmers were promised that when EID (Electronic Identification) was introduced these markets would open up. He said this has not happened and we need to see immediate progress.
‘Now is the time to make progress in China and the government cannot allow this opportunity to pass by.’
Mr Dennehy said IFA has put a strong case to the factories to increase the Quality Assurance bonus to 30c/kg. He said some plants have increased the bonus from 10c to 15c/kg, but a lot more needs to be done to properly reward farmers for Quality Assurance.
On EID implementation, all of the meat plants said that they are now in a position to provide farmers with a full print-out of their dispatch docket when selling lambs.
‘IFA put it very strongly to MII that the charges some plants are applying under the clean sheep policy are totally unfair,’ Sean Dennehy maintains, adding that ‘Clipping charges on Category B lambs is wrong.’
He said IFA also made it clear that scrapie and SRM charges on ewes should be abolished: ‘We also had a good discussion with the processing sector on sheep policy issues including the need for €30 per ewe targeted support for sheep farmers, Brexit, CAP 2020 and International trade deals including New Zealand and Australia.’