Speaking at the IFA AGM in Dublin this week, IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said factories need to stabilise lamb prices to prevent any further undermining of prices and the market. He said the upheaval on the lamb price over the last two weeks has damaged the market and the incomes of sheep farmers for 2016.
John Lynskey said sheep is a very low margin sector and simply cannot afford price hits of up to €15 per head over a short period. In addition, he said the problems around moving from hoggets to spring lamb needs to be handled in a better way, other than by just slashing prices.
John Lynskey said a sustainable sheep sector needs strong spring lamb and hogget enterprises with strong viable prices.
John Lynskey said IFA has been in contact with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and is arranging a meeting with the lamb factories. In addition, IFA will be meeting key retailers on the importance of stabilising lamb prices.
National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said hogget finishers should dig in hard and strongly resist the downward pressure from the factories on prices, and demand more on carcase weights. He said supply figures clearly show that a lot of hoggets have already been sold and remaining numbers will be tight. In addition, he said there will be very limited volumes of spring lamb until mid-May.
John Lynskey said an analysis of supplies shows that hogget numbers are tightening rapidly and the move on price is an attempt by the factories to force out remaining numbers. He said last year the lamb kill was up 67,000 head and so far this year the hogget kill is up 29,000 head. With no additional ewe numbers in the system and Norther imports down last year, this means the hoggets are already slaughtered.
In addition, he said evidence and feedback from hogget finishers around the country is that numbers have already been sold and any remaining supplies will be much tighter than last year, when prices held up well.
John Lynskey said against this background, farmers should dig in hard and resist the price pressure from the factories.