IFA Sheep Chairman Kevin Comiskey said sheep farmers have the strongest case of all sectors for inclusion in the EU Commission support package for Irish farmers.
The IFA Sheep Chairman was speaking following a meeting with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue where the realities of the crisis in the sheep sector were again highlighted to him.
“Sheep farmers last year operated off a margin of €7/ewe and to-date this year have lost €15 a ewe from the market place, putting sheep farmers into a severe loss-making situation,” he said.
Prices this year are running over 40c/kg behind last year’s levels and the recent price cuts by factories have compounded the situation.
The IFA Chairman said the new package of support announced by the EU Commission for Ireland of €9.5m can be supplemented by Government to bring this to €28.5m in total.
“This package and the irrefutable case of sheep farmers for inclusion in the BAR fund creates two very significant funding sources the Minister has at his disposal to support sheep farmers,” he said.
Kevin Comiskey said the challenges on sheep farms have been highlighted to the Minister by IFA since the start of the year. The situation has deteriorated since then and further price cuts are destroying confidence on our 35,000 sheep farms.
He said farmers, Teagasc and Bord Bia are all saying the same thing: the sheep sector is in an extremely difficult space and sheep farmers do not have the capacity to absorb these losses.
IFA has put a comprehensive set of proposals to the Minister for Agriculture and his officials to deliver €30/ewe and provide incentives for store lamb finishers to avert this crisis and protect the livelihoods of farmers in our second largest farm sector which is carried out on some of the most difficult land in the country.
He said sheep farmers need a clear signal from the Minister of Agriculture of his intentions to support directly sheep farmers for the work we do and the food we produce.