Irish farmers call for sensible approach to sheep situation

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Irish farmers demand sheep protection
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) chairman Sean Dennehy has said the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) needs to come to its senses to not damage the sheep sector.

Dennehy said that sheep farmers were “annoyed and angry​” that some lambs were sent home again this week from some meat plants under the DAFM’s Clean Lamb Policy.

He said that, in a dry week where lambs were coming clean off grass, this was unacceptable and the Department needed to “come to their senses and adopt a more practical and sensible approach which will not damage the sheep sector​”.

He said the IFA was arranging a meeting with the Department on the operation of the policy this autumn.

Despite this, he said, the lamb trade was stable this week with factories paying €4.80-€4.90/kg and some top prices of €4.95/kg.

He said the kill remained strong, driven by meal feeding since the drought, but expected that supplies would tighten in the weeks ahead. He said the ewe kill was big and factories were paying €2.60-€2.80/kg.

Sheep farmers were approaching a “critical time​” in relation to future plans on ewe numbers and it was essential that factories send a more positive signal to flock owners on lamb prices, he added.

Farmers need a minimum of €100 per lamb and at prices at €4.80/kg, many lambs are struggling to make this.

Dennehy also called for factories to show greater commitment to flock owners. He was concerned to see that cull ewe slaughterings were up 48,000 head this year.

He said: “2018 has been an extremely difficult year for sheep farmers, through a combination of major losses last winter and huge increases in feed costs, including throughout the summer.”

The IFA is Ireland’s largest farming representative organisation and has been representing the interests of Irish farmers in all sectors for more than 60 years.

Related topics: Livestock, Ireland, Lamb

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