IFA President Eddie Downey and National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey led an IFA delegation in a meeting with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the lamb factories on the difficulties in the lamb market in Dublin yesterday.
Eddie Downey said IFA made it very clear to the factories the recent lamb price cuts were unacceptable and it is essential that prices are restored to viable levels to maintain confidence in the sector.
Eddie Downey said the factories accepted that strong viable lamb prices are essential for producer returns and the price cuts of recent weeks have created real problems for producers. He said an immediate positive response from the factories is required. He told the meeting that both processors and retailers have a major responsibility to restore prices to viable levels and prevent any undermining of the market.
IFA sheep Chairman John Lynskey said lamb prices are now 30/40c/kg or €6.50/8.50 per head below 2014 levels. ”We made it very clear to the factories that the price cuts have imposed severe difficulties on producers and left them angry and frustrated with the way their incomes have been eroded this year.”
John Lynskey said the factories have moved too far with the lower quotes this week and are out of kilter with French and UK prices. He said this week Bord Bia are reporting grade 1 Irish lamb making €5.25/5.35/kg incl vat. UK auction mart prices this week are at £1.54/1.56p/kg equivalent to €4.90/kg incl vat. GB factory prices are £3.40/3.45/kg, equivalent to €4.97/5.04/kg.
The IFA Sheep Chairman said the strength of sterling against the Euro, compared to last year, gives a real advantage of over 50c/kg to Irish exporters over their UK counterparts going into the EU. In addition, he said the end of Ramadan on July 18th will increase demand over the next two weeks.
John Lynskey said the meeting also discussed the need for increased promotional activity from both Bord Bia and the retailers to boost domestic demand. The need for the factories to increase carcase weights as the season progresses was also raised by the IFA.
The meeting between IFA and MII also discussed the need for increased direct supports for the sheep sector, market access issues especially to China and the USA, the importance of the sheep sector in the context of the Agri-Strategy 2025 and sheep tagging and EID.
Earlier this week, John Lynskey met with the sheep farmer leaders from both the UK and France in Brussels. He said a strong joint message was that cheap lamb cannot be allowed undermine the market and farm incomes.