Current price cuts are not sustainable for sheep farmers, with prices now not reflecting the production cost sheep farmers are enduring this year.

This is what Kevin Comiskey, the sheep chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) told Agriland.

Kevin said: “Factories must recognise the costs of production sheep farmers are facing this year and reflect it in lamb prices.

“The behaviour over the past few weeks, particularly over the last week, only serves to undermine confidence in the sector.

“UK prices have weakened in line with ours but French prices are strong and this is a key market for our lamb,” he added.

“Supplies of suitable fleshed lambs are very tight and as such, factories must reflect the costs on farms in prices for lambs as demand has not slipped, so why should prices.

“Store lamb sales have started out well but it is critical farmers see a commitment from factories to return strong lamb prices to underpin this trade.

“This is another example of market dysfunction in its failure to reflect the costs of production on farms,” said Comiskey.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Charlie McConalogue must support directly sheep farmers for the input costs being endured on farms this year.

“The minister must build a ewe payment of €30/ewe in the upcoming budget to support farmers.

“Sheep production is the most environmentally sustainable food production system in the country but sheep farmers are not been paid for it by the market, in the very week we have reduction targets set by government for agriculture we have further cuts on lamb prices.

“We must start seeing farmers appropriately paid for the quality of food being produced.

“Farmers should sell hard, consider the mart outlet and be mindful of the lower kill outs this year when drafting lambs.”