IFA National Sheep Chair Kevin Comiskey has heavily criticised both meat factories and Government for the lack of meaningful support to sheep farmers.
He said the crises in the sheep sector is deepening as prices continue to lag behind last year’s levels with an estimated €10.5m wiped of farmers’ incomes in 2023 to date when compared to the price differential from last year.
Input costs on sheep farms have increased by over 40% and farmers do not have the capacity to absorb these cost increases which is effectively eroding all margins in an extremely low-income sector he said.
Teagasc figures showed income levels on sheep farms dropped by over 80% last year to just €7/ewe which included the SWS payment.
“Farmers cannot continue to sustain this level of cuts, confidence in the sector is extremely low and farmers are exiting the sector due to the lack of support displayed to farmers,” the IFA National Sheep Chair said.
“Factories and the Government are acutely aware of the loss-making situation sheep farmers are in but refuse to support them,” he added.
Kevin Comiskey said the Minister and the Government have sat idle by while the sector is collapsing. IFA have consistently identified these concerns to the Minister but has failed to take action on it and come forward with meaningful supports for sheep farmers.
He said the sector is in crisis with farmers in a critical loss-making situation that can be only addressed with immediate direct supports.
“The Minister must come forward and provide farmers with a €30/ewe payment by building on the supports of the sheep improvement scheme of just €12/ewe. The Minister must indicate what actions he is going to undertake to resolve this challenging situation as a matter of urgency,” Kevin Comiskey concluded.