Following high farm-gate prices for lamb, producers have been encouraged to increase production, but farming leaders are worried the increased numbers could lead to a fall in price, sending out negative signals to an industry which has declined for a number of years.
Charles Sercombe, the livestock board chairman of UK farming group, the National Farmers’ Union, has called on processors and retailers to take a long term view of the market and encourage the continued growth in the UK flock.
He said: “The boom-bust cycle of sheep pricing is not in the interests of the farmer, processor or retailer. We have seen an improvement of farm returns in the past year or so, but a sustainable supply chain depends on a fair return for everyone involved.
“Sending out negative price signals at a time when farmers are investing in their flocks is damaging and may actually lead to an erosion of farmer confidence. Rising input costs continue to erode farm margins and in many parts of the country sheep need to remain competitive with other commodities.
“Old season lambs are filtering out of the market now and, despite a weakening of the euro, long term supply and demand fundamentals have changed little. Current prices should be rewarding farmers for bringing in spec lamb to market.
“We need retailers and processors to act in the best interests of the whole chain and work to stabilise the lamb market. British produce is in demand on both home and export markets and the recent barbecue weather should help to boost demand for quality British lamb.”