IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy met with senior vets in the Department of Agriculture again this week over the ongoing problems with the ‘over the top’ implementation of the Clean Sheep Policy by the Department at the lamb factories.
Sean Dennehy said analysis shows that more than 900 lambs per day, or between 7% and 9% of the kill, are being classified as Category C and ordered home or back to farm by the Department. He said this approach cannot continue as it is imposing major unnecessary costs on farmers, it is not provided for under EU regulations, and seriously disrupting the normal sale of sheep.
While up to 93% of sheep are categorised A and B and deemed suitable for slaughter, Sean Dennehy said it was never the intention under the Clean Sheep Policy that sheep would be sent home or that the Department would insist on full shearing of some sheep. He said this approach is way over the top and has to stop. In addition, he said both factories and farmers are reporting a complete lack of consistency on the policy between plants and vets.
The IFA sheep farmer leader accused the Department of breaching their own protocol on the Clean Sheep Policy.
“Nowhere in the policy is there reference to sending home consignments of lambs or using arbitrary figures of 10% Category C to refuse loads of lambs. In addition, it was never intended that farmers would have to fully shear some sheep.”
Sean Dennehy said there is rising frustration among sheep farmers at the way they are being treated under the Clean Sheep Policy, “Sheep farmers will do their best to have their animals as clean as possible but the Department and the factories have to be practical and take account of the difficult weather conditions.”
He said sheep farmers are getting very fed up with the way their livelihoods are being threatened, “There needs to be a realisation that this is a very low income enterprise and not capable of sustaining excessive red tape and bureaucracy such as over the top regulations on the likes of clean sheep and EID tagging.”
In the week ending February 10th, the Department sent home up to 3,600 lambs that were deemed as category C. Last week, the Department rejected another 3,500 lambs, ordering that they be sent back.