IFA meet with factories on lamb price and sheep issues

A delegation from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) held a meeting with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) this week, at which representatives from the main sheep processors were present.

Sean Dennehy, the IFA’s national sheep chairperson, and other personnel from the association’s National Sheep Committee, met with representatives of Irish Country Meats, Kepak, Kildare Chilling and Dawn Meats.

“The need for strong, viable lamb prices and market prospects for 2020 were top of the agenda. In addition, we discussed specifications, quality assurance, EID [electronic identification] implementation, factory charges and sheep policy issues,” Dennehy explained.

Dennehy said that the IFA delegation “made it very clear” to the factories that sheep farmer incomes were under “severe pressure and lamb prices needed to continue rising”.

“We were very strong in the argument that carcass weight limits were way too restrictive at the factories and new season lamb needed to open at a minimum carcass weight of 21kgs,” Dennehy said.

“We discussed the need for a lot more work by the Government in opening the important Chinese and US markets to Irish lamb exports,” he added.

“Now is the time to make progress in China and the Government cannot allow this opportunity to pass by,” Dennehy insisted.

Dennehy and his team also raised the issue of the quality assurance bonus, urging the processors to increases the payment to 30c/kg.

“Some plants have increased the bonus from 10c/kg to 15c/kg but a lot more needs to be done to properly reward farmers for quality assurance,” he argued.

The processors informed the IFA delegation that all of them were now in a position to provide farmers with a full-print out of their dispatch docket when the farmers were selling lambs.

“IFA put it very strongly to MII that the charges some plants are applying under the Clean Sheep Policy are totally unfair. Clipping charges on Category B lambs is wrong,” said Dennehy.

He also called for the abolition of scrapie and SRM charges.

“We also had a good discussion with the processing sector on sheep policy issues, including the need for a €30/ewe targeted support for sheep farmers; Brexit; CAP 2020; and International trade deals.