Following a meeting between the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) in Dublin today both orgainsations called on processors to stabilise the lamb trade.

Imports for lambs from Northern Ireland for slaughter fell by as much as 50% recent weeks as new labelling laws impact on the cross border trade.

Only 3,187 Northern Ireland origin lambs were imported for slaughter in plants in the Republic last week, compared to over 7,000 at a similar time last year a reduction of over 54%.

The IFA and the Ulster Farmers Union met in Dublin this morning to discuss serious concerns relating to the current status of the sheep trade on the island of Ireland.

Over the last number of weeks prices for hoggets have collapsed in Northern Ireland from 410p/kg down to 320p/kg while quotes for spring lambs have slipped from 460p/kg down to 410p/kg. Sheep farmers south of the border have also seen lamb prices nose dive in recent weeks with quotes falling by as much as 50c/kg last week.

IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said following the meeting that both the IFA and the UFU are very clear that the lamb processors must act in a responsible way to stabilise the market at this important time.

“Both Minister Coveney and Minister O’Neill must act to ensure that unintended consequences from the labelling changes are not allowed impact on primary producers and distort the sheep trade,” he said.

The new labelling laws mean for lamb exported to the Republic from Northern Ireland will have to be declared as having been reared in the UK and slaughtered in the Republic.

The Ulster Farmers Union has said with 45% of Northern Ireland lambs exported to the Republic last year and with plants here heavily reliant on northern lambs to satisfy our markets and maintain throughput, it says it is essential that these issues are resolved as soon as possible.

The UFU has said the unusual decline in prices is an extremely concerning situation at a time of the year when producers have already experienced expensive winter costs for both hogget’s and new season lamb.