IFA Sheep Chairman Kevin Comiskey said the crisis in the sheep sector is deepening as prices continue well below last year’s levels.
He said prices this year are still 70c/kg behind last year with input costs on sheep farms showing no signs of reducing.
“Last year’s margins of just €7/ewe as presented by Teagasc at the national IFA Sheep meeting in Athlone at the end of January clearly highlighted the extent of the problems on farms in 2022. With prices running almost €16/lamb behind last year’s levels, sheep farmers are facing into a critical situation if urgent action is not taken by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue,” he said.
Kevin Comiskey said the Minister convened the Food Vision Sheep Group over a month ago to put forward proposals to address the crisis in the sector.
“The sector is in crisis. Sheep farmers need immediate direct supports to offset the enormous input cost increases experienced on farms and the unviable prices returned from the market place.”
Sheep farmers supports must be built to €30/ewe to sustain this low-income vulnerable sector that contributed over €475m in export value to the national economy last year – an increase of 17% – while at the same time having their margins slashed by over 80%. Store lamb finishers must also be directly supported for the vital role they play in the sector and particularly for hill sheep farmers.
Kevin Comiskey said it is understandable that it takes the Minister’s officials time to put in place a scheme for sheep farmers, but what is not acceptable is the length of time it’s taking the Minister to outline his intentions in relation to supporting sheep farmers in this crisis.
Two weeks ago, the Minister told us he had instructed his officials to look at what supports could be provided. It’s now time for the Minister to come forward with his proposals.
The IFA Sheep Chairman said there is a significant fund of money available to the Minister in the Brexit Adjustment Reserve which must be utilised or it will be lost. The sheep sector, more than most other sectors, is impacted by the negative effects of Brexit and must be supported through this fund.
Kevin Comiskey said Minister McConalogue has had more than enough time to make his mind up on how he plans to support sheep farmers in this crisis.
“The time for talking is over. We must hear now from the Minister what his intentions are and how he proposes to support sheep farmers at this critical time,” he said.