Farmers are taking more than €11/head less for their lambs this year, as a result of a combination of factory price cuts compared to last year, weight restrictions, clipping charges and the imposition of EID charges, according to the IFA.
The organisation’s sheep chairman Sean Dennehy has said that farmers are very angry with the way their incomes are being eroded.
He noted some meat plants are imposing excessive price cuts of 50c/kg on heavier lambs. Farmers, he added, also have to pay €1.27/head of an SRM charge and 71c per head of a scrapie charge on ewes.
Irish Country Meats
An IFA delegation met with senior management in Irish Country Meats in Camolin, Co. Wexford this week.
“IFA made it very clear to ICM management that sheep farmer anger is rising over lamb price cuts as well as weight restrictions and the imposition of unfair clipping charges,” Dennehy added.
He said that farmers cannot accept that factories continue to cut lamb prices when there is “little or no change” in retail prices and lamb prices in New Zealand are reported at €4.90/kg by Bord Bia, or 60c/kg above Irish base levels.
“Farmers are angry with the excessive factory lamb price cuts of recent weeks, which point to either very poor marketing or excessive profiteering by the processors and retailers.”
The farm organisation is demanding that carcase weights are immediately moved up to 22 kgs at this time of year.
“Normally on October 1st, weights rise to a minimum of 22kgs and some plants are paying some farmers up to this level.”
He acknowledged that Brexit is a major issue for the sheepmeat sector, with uncertainty “eroding the market and prices”, with UK farmers off-loading lambs ahead of the October 31st deadline.”
“On top of this, the sheep sector has the Northern lamb import issue, the land bridge route, the New Zealand quota and tariffs on Irish exports to the UK market.”
“The price cuts over recent weeks have seen lamb prices drop significantly below the critical €5.00/kg mark and has left sheep farmers seriously struggling financially.”
The IFA is demanding that the factories introduce a strong Quality Assurance bonus of 30c/kg on lamb as the current general 10c/kg QA, with a belief that the top-up is “totally inadequate” to cover the cost and bureaucracy involved at farm-level.
Dennehy said the imposition of 30c/kg clipping charges in some plants is totally unacceptable to sheep farmers. “The factories are using the Department of Agriculture Clean Lamb Policy to impose an excessive and unfair levy on sheep farmers. This has to stop.”
Price changes and costs imposed on lamb in 2019: €/head
- Price difference 2018/2019 (35c/kg x 21.5kg Bord Bia): 7.52;
- Carcase weights (0.5kg x €4.50/kg): 2.25;
- Increase costs of EID tagging: 1.00;
- Clean sheep charge (some plants): 0.30;
- Total price/weight changes and charges 2018/2019: €11.07/lamb