The IFA National Sheep Committee brought the campaign for stronger supports for the sheep sector to the Dept of Agriculture this afternoon.
IFA Sheep Chairman Kevin Comiskey submitted a letter to Minister Charlie McConalogue highlighting the deepening income crisis on sheep farms and setting out the urgent need for immediate direct supports. This was requested by the Chair of the Food Vision Group last Friday.
Following a request from Minister McConalogue, the Chair of the Food Vision Beef and Sheep Group convened a meeting of the group focused on the sheep sector last Friday.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the market situation in the sheep sector with presentations from DAFM, An Bord Bia and Teagasc on current supports and activities to inform stakeholder discussions on what more can be done to support the sector in the current circumstances.
As outlined at the meeting the sector is currently in crisis with sheep farmers margins effectively wiped out, dropping 81% to just €7/ewe in 2022 and based on the presentations from both Teagasc and Bord Bia limited opportunity for any significant increase in 2023.
This crisis can only be alleviated by immediate direct supports for sheep farmers from Government, including:
- Direct targeted support of €30/ewe to support the economic viability of the sector must be provided.
- Store lamb finishers are a vital outlet for hill sheep farmers and play a key role in our production supply systems, direct supports are critical to maintain this outlet for hill sheep farmers.
- Farmers must be directly supported to offset the cost of shearing and incentivised to present wool in optimum condition to facilitate further processing.
“We need action now. Without it, Ireland’s second-largest farm sector carried out on 36,000 farms in some of the most difficult land types in the country will be put at risk”.
The Committee’s decision to visit the Department follows on from last week’s sheep protest which took place in Roscommon Town, where hundreds of sheep farmers rallied together to highlight the worsening crisis in their sector.
“IFA made a clear case to Minister McConalogue that support of €30/ewe was needed for the sector. Instead, the Minister went with €12/ewe, which is way too low given the impact of inflation on the sector,” he said.
“This is the fourth time our members have taken action and sounded the alarm bell in as many weeks. Let this Government and the processors be under no illusion; we will continue our campaign if support is not forthcoming,” he said.
Kevin Comiskey said the processors’ greed was so great that they were effectively destroying their own supply chain.
“Further price pressure in recent days is not acceptable, As we approach the key religious festivals in March, demand for lamb will improve. Factories must immediately reflect the improving market conditions in the price they pay,” he concluded.