IFA Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said farmers have not been given the assurances from the authorities that strong and robust procedures are in place around imports of sheep meat.
IFA raised the issue in April following the importation of 23t of sheep meat, which coincided with factories dropping the price of lamb.
Sean Dennehy said it’s up to our competent authorities – the Department of Agriculture, the Food Safety Authority and Bord Bia – to assure farmers this product is not misrepresented as Irish sheep meat.
“We have insisted that the three agencies audit all procedures around the importation, processing and labelling of this product to ensure the integrity of Irish lamb is protected and that no imported products carry our labels or our QA logo,” he said.
IFA has raised this issue directly with the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and we are awaiting a comprehensive report from all three agencies with responsibility in this area.
Sean Dennehy said, “Structures must be put in place to supply our key markets throughout the year and remove the need to use imported product to fill orders”.
Factories have a key role to play in this and must support the production of early lamb on Irish farms for these markets with price commitments that reflect the costs and labour associated with early lamb production.
Sean Dennehy said the Minister for Agriculture must protect Irish sheep farmers from mislabelling of our products by ensuring robust procedures are in place that guarantees the integrity of our production systems and product carrying our labels.