IFA Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy has strongly criticised the unjustified attempts by factories to weaken lamb prices.
He said market conditions for lamb are very favourable. Prices are rising in the key UK and French markets on the run in to the Christmas trade on the back of tightening supplies.
“The numbers of suitable lambs that factories need for the Christmas trade are not available and this approach is a crude attempt to panic farmers into selling lambs,” he said.
Prices in the UK for finished sheep have been high, and are rising again recently. Throughput at UK abattoirs is down 11% year on year, and market reports indicate supplies will remain tight.
Sheep prices in France have pushed on again. Spain is an important supplier to France, but we are now past the annual peak for the Spanish trade with France, and so volumes are now at a lower level. Farmgate prices in Spain have risen, and this is also strengthening the trade in France, and by extension prices for Irish lamb.
“Factories are offering €7.30/kg and deals to 23kgs to secure lambs, but are meeting very strong resistance from farmers. Cull ewes are making €3.10/kg to €3.30/kg in general, with higher prices available,” he said.
Sean Dennehy said farmers should only sell lambs as they become fit. Deals to 23kgs are on offer and with a very strong mart trade for store and finished lambs, the current attempts to lower prices should be rejected.