SHEEP farmers are very angry with the way their incomes are being eroded with looming Brexit fears compounding the situation.
That’s according to IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy who said: ‘Through a combination of factory price cuts compared to last year, weight restrictions, clipping charges and the imposition of EID charges, farmers are now back €11 per head on their lambs.’
He said some meat plants are imposing excessive price cuts of 50c/kg on heavier lambs. Farmers also have to pay €1.27 per head of a SRM charge and 71c per head of a scrapie charge on ewes.
An IFA delegation met with senior management in Irish Country Meats in Camolin in Wexford and Sean said: ‘IFA made it very clear to ICM management that sheep farmer anger is rising over lamb price cuts as well as weight restrictions and the imposition of unfair clipping charges.’
He said that farmers cannot accept that factories continue to cut lamb prices when there is little or no change in retail prices and lamb prices in New Zealand are reported at €4.90/kg by Bord Bia, or 60c/kg above Irish base levels.
‘Farmers are angry with the excessive factory lamb price cuts of recent weeks, which point to either very poor marketing or excessive profiteering by the processors and retailers.’
IFA is demanding that carcass weights be immediately moved up to 22 kgs at this time of year: ‘Normally on Oct 1st weights rise to a minimum of 22kgs and some plants are paying some farmers up to this level.
‘Brexit is a major issue for the sheep meat sector, with uncertainty eroding the market and prices, with UK farmers off-loading lambs ahead of the October 31st deadline. On top of this the sheep sector has the Northern lamb import issue, the land bridge route, the New Zealand quota and tariffs on Irish exports to the UK market.
‘The price cuts over recent weeks have seen lamb price drop significantly below the critical €5/kg mark and has left sheep farmers seriously struggling financially.’