Relentless Cuts to Lamb Prices by Factories Must Stop

Sheep in Wicklow

IFA Sheep chair Adrian Gallagher said factories are undermining sheep markets and destroying confidence in the sector by their relentless race to the bottom on lamb prices.

He said this behaviour at a critical time of year for sheep farmers is unacceptable and must stop.

“It has been an extremely difficult year lambing ewes, with enormous weather challenges contributing to increased costs and losses encountered,” he said.

Adrian Gallagher said the processing sector can and must do more on lamb price to reflect the actual costs of lamb production on farms and must be a lot stronger with retailers.

In relation to retailers, he said they are very quick to talk about their green credentials when it comes to marketing themselves to their customers, but at the first opportunity will undermine local farmers by sourcing cheap imports from outside the EU to maintain their own margins.

“The Agri Food Regulator has a serious job of work to do to provide sheep farmers with full transparency in the supply chain. Sheep farmers have seen prices cut by over 20% in the past few weeks, but product on shelves hasn’t changed to this extent, if at all,” he said.

Adrian Gallagher said the severity and speed of the recent price cuts is also a timely reminder to the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue about the importance of direct supports for sheep farmers and their incomes.

He said the sheep sector is a low-income vulnerable sector that does not have the capacity to absorb the type of price volatility we are experiencing at the hands of the factories and retailers. Strong meaningful targeted supports are vital for farmers who continue to lamb ewes in the sector.

The Minister must extend the Sheep Welfare Scheme into 2025 and commit to additional funding in the scheme to bring total payments per ewe to €30, when combined with SIS.

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