‘Light lamb market needs to be re-established’

The light lamb market needs to be re-established in order to help sheep farmers get a better price for their produce, according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

The lack of markets for light lambs is impacting on the early lamb markets, the Livestock Chairman of the INHFA Brendan Joyce has said.

With a lack of markets for these light lambs, farmers are forced to finish them as hoggets in the spring which in turn impacts on the early lamb market, he said.

The poor return for early lamb is then forcing these farmers to mid-season lamb which is delivering an over-supply, especially as we move into autumn.

Meanwhile, lamb prices continue to fall with farmers being quoted between €4.30-4.40/kg for quality assured French lamb, the INHFA has said, which is running at 50c/kg (€10/head) behind where they were last year.

The situation for light lambs is worse with quotes from factories difficult to secure, while those that are quoting are offering around €4/kg for lambs less than 15kg, according to the association.

The INHFA is concerned that prices could fall even further by increased sheep numbers on the commonages, which would be driven by the commonage plans.

“Action needs to be taken now to improve prices and to open up new markets. Prices like this are not sustainable but it will get worse in coming years if action is not taken.

“What we need to see happen is for Minister Creed to take control of this and focus resources in trying to deliver a light lamb market.

We believe there are market opportunities in North Africa and inside the EU.

The INHFA has also called on Minister Creed to set up a working group from all relevant stakeholders to look at market opportunities and the possibility of an organic label for hill lambs which would aid in its marketability.