The need for strong, viable lamb prices along with price stability at this important time of year, was highlighted at a recent meeting between the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) and Meat Industry Ireland (MII).
IFA National Sheep Committee chairman, John Lynskey, warned that price shocks must be avoided. “Irish processors are the dominant export players in the EU market at this time of year and have a major responsibility not to undermine the market.”
Mr Lynskey said with the majority of Irish lamb now being cut and retail packed by the meat plants, as opposed to being sold as carcases, the factories are in a much stronger position to avoid price shocks and maintain stability.
Mr Lynskey told the MII that maintaining confidence at farm level is crucial. “Strong stable prices are critical to farm incomes, which are very low on sheep farms. The latest Teagasc National Farm Income survey shows that sheep farm incomes are only €16,011 per annum, of which direct payments account for over 111 per cent.”
Mr Lynskey said it is important that farmers select lambs carefully and sell as they become fit. He said factories also have an important role to play in this in terms of price stability and ensuring that carcase weights are moved up appropriately as the season progresses.
Significant spring lamb and hogget numbers have been sold in recent weeks with the disposals reaching 60,000 head per week in the run up to the beginning of the Ramadan festival on May 28. To date this year the sheep kill is up 134,000 head on last year. Market demand is very strong with domestic sales reported to have increased by over 11 per cent during the Easter period.
Mr Lynskey said IFA also met with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep last week. The IFA made it clear to the Department that this policy cannot result in any additional costs or charges on farmers and that it has to be consistent and practical to meet sheep farming conditions in Ireland, according to Mr Lynskey.