Opening the 10th Annual Roscommon Lamb Festival, IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said Roscommon sheep farmers are noted for top quality breeding, and lamb production and sheep farming is the very heartbeat of the economic activity in County. He said for the 10th anniversary, the Roscommon festival this year is bigger and better.
John Lynskey said sheep farming is a major enterprise on Irish farms with over 30,000 producers, 2.5m breeding ewes and an output of over 61,000 tonnes. He said we export 50,000t per year with the main markets being France and the UK. He added the total output value for the sheep sector exceeds €300m.
John Lynskey said the IFA National Sheep Committee has worked hard on behalf of producers and secured some major benefits. He said, “Earlier this year, the IFA secured €25m in additional funding for the new €10 per ewe sheep welfare scheme, which is a major boost to the sector.” He said this delivery involved a major national campaign over two years by IFA, culminating in securing the funding as part of the new Programme for Government.
Lamb price prospects
On lamb price prospects, John Lynskey said hogget numbers are now tightening rapidly with factories paying €5.20/kg and up to €5.25. He said spring lambs are making €6.10/6.20 with €6.25 to 21kgs paid. He said with hoggets numbers drying up, factories and retailers are looking at making the move over to new season lamb.
The IFA Sheep Farmers leader said the Muslim festival of Ramadan is much earlier this year and commences on May 27th. In addition, the Bord Bia main season promotions will kick in in early June providing a strong boost for the domestic market.
John Lynskey said IFA is working hard to alleviate the threat from Brexit to the sheep meat sector. He said IFA President Joe Healy has met with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the issue and also put the IFA case strongly to Commissioner Phil Hogan and Minister Michael Creed earlier this week at the IFA Brexit conference in Goffs. He said the big concerns on sheep relate to access to the UK market, the New Zealand quota as well as the CAP budget.