Farmers Angry as Factories Undermine Lamb Market

Sheep in Wicklow

IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy has accused the factories of undermining the lamb market this week with unjustified and totally excessive lamb price cuts.

He said sheep farmers, who have come through a really difficult spring with major cost increases, are really angry over the way the factories have pulled the rug on lamb prices this week.

Sean Dennehy said the factories have to realise that farmers are also part of the market and are operating on very low incomes. He said the most recent Teagasc figures show the average sheep farmer’s income at only €16,897 per year. “Factory price cuts like we have seen this week seriously damage the market and erode farmer confidence in the sector,” Sean Dennehy said.

Sean Dennehy said farmers are resisting the price pull and last week’s kill was back to 53,063 – down 7,344 on the same week last year. In addition, he said the spring lamb kill was 27,249 compared to 36,761 for the same week last year.

Top prices of €6.50/kg were paid on Monday and up to €6.40/kg was being paid yesterday (Wed), despite the factories quoting much lower.

Sean Dennehy said clearly the lower quotes from the factories are an attempt to force farmers out with stock, which the figures show is in relatively tight supply. He said agents are saying that numbers of fit lambs are tight enough on the ground.

The IFA sheep farmer leader said farmers should only market lambs when they are fully fit as severe price sanctions are being imposed on underweight lambs and hoggets in nearly all of the plants.

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