IFA Sheep Chairman Kevin Comiskey said hogget and cull ewe prices have risen again this week, but they have not kept pace with the cost increases incurred by sheep farmers.
He said market demand is strong for sheep meat with the start of Ramadan and Easter approaching. Supplies are tight and factories have had to move prices on.
Deals to €7.50/kg and above are available at this stage, with no talk of weight cuts as factories try to close out deals. Cull ewes are making up to €4.00/kg.
The limited numbers of spring lamb on offer are coming in at €8.00/kg in general, with some deals above this.
Kevin Comiskey said these prices are not off-setting the huge cost increases sheep farmers are exposed to this year. Based on Teagasc figures, fertiliser increases of €10 to €15 per ewe this year will cost the sector up to €40m before compound feed, fuel and contractor costs are accounted for.
He said sheep farming is a low-income sector that does not have the capacity to absorb these increases.
The IFA Sheep Chairman said there is real concern within the sector for the store lamb trade later this year if actions are not taken to support this key aspect of our production system.
Kevin Comiskey said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must ensure sheep farmers are directly supported in the €48m crisis fund that is available.