Lamb processors have been criticised for allegedly “hammering local producers on weight limits” while paying out for heavier imported lambs.

According to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), factories have maintained 21.5kg as an upper weight limit for local suppliers.

However, ICSA sheep chairperson Sean McNamara said today (Friday, October 2) that some factories are prepared to pay up to 22kg for lambs sourced from abroad.

It is time they give us an explanation for these double standards.

“ICSA members from around the country have been monitoring the situation at factories and it would appear the practice of differentiating between local and imported lambs on weight limits is widespread,” McNamara claimed.

He added: “Sheep farmers want a level playing field. We see no reason at all for factories to be importing lambs from the north and elsewhere, and there certainly can be no justification for paying more for imported lambs.”

The ICSA sheep chairperson urged the need for greater transparency around sheep imports.

“We know that in any given year approximately half a million lambs are imported into the republic for slaughter,” he said.

“Sheep farmers deserve to know why these lambs are being brought in and in such big numbers, and why local producers are getting a raw deal,” he concluded.

The ICSA has said that it is calling on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to provide the following:

  • Weekly reports on the number of lambs imported, and from where;
  • Full transparency around which markets these imported lambs are servicing;
  • A comprehensive explanation on how farmers can be assured these lambs are not being sold as Origin Green lambs;
  • An outline of the veterinary protocols imposed and traceability requirements on all lambs at the point of export before they come to Irish meat factories.