Calls for sheep farmer compensation after Kildare Chilling closure

There are calls for a compensation package for sheep farmers following the news yesterday that the lamb processing line at the Kildare Chilling processing plant has been temporarily shut down as a result of a number of Covid-19 cases.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that such a package “must be given serious consideration following the ceasing of lamb processing operations at the Co. Kildare plant”.

Sean McNamara, the association’s sheep chairperson, argued that: “Sheep farmers have received nothing by way of support during the crisis. They have suffered from the same market fluctuations as beef farmers, yet their plight has been ignored.

The closure of Kildare Chilling will just pile on the pressure and Minister [for Agriculture] Dara Calleary must act now on their behalf.

McNamara highlighted that many farmers wil have difficulty in booking their lambs in at other plants for processing, which could result in price cuts.

“We are a factory down at present, and still factories are bringing in imported lambs. For what? Prices this week were already well back on last week with quotes down by as much as 50c/kg,” he said.

“Now we face the prospect of the closure of Kildare Chilling being used as an excuse by other factories to cut prices further. It is simply too much for sheep farmers to bear,” the ICSA sheep chairperson argued.

McNamara also reiterated an ICSA call for a ‘sheep taskforce’.

“The sector is being hammered on all sides and it must be given urgent attention. Sheep farmers need support and they must be given a lifeline if we want them to stay going,” he concluded.

Kildare Chilling

It is understood that the lamb processing line at the Kildare Chilling plant has been suspended “for a period of time” due to a number of Covid-19 cases.

Sources have indicated that “upwards of 50%” of the staff on the lamb line have been infected with Covid-19. This figure, or the number of cases, has not been confirmed by the processor.

Kildare Chilling – which processes beef and lamb – has issued a short statement on the matter, saying that “full contact tracing” has been undertaken for the affected staff members.

While the company did not provide the exact number of cases confirmed, it did note that the affected staff members are self-isolating.