‘Imported NI lambs used by factories to cut prices’

Factories are offering from €4.70/kg to €4.90/kg for lambs this week, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) National Sheep Committee Chairman, John Lynskey.

Lynskey said that in some parts of the country supplies are tight and factories are anxious for lambs.

The chairman said farmers are getting very annoyed and angry at the way they feel imported lambs from Northern Ireland are being used by the factories to cut prices to local suppliers.

He explained that factories are taking advantage and using the weakness of sterling to import increasing volumes of northern lambs, while at the same time pushing back local suppliers and offering lower prices.

This makes no market sense to farmers and what they see is increasing volumes of imported lamb in the factories, Lynskey said. Between 9,000 and 10,000 lambs per week are reportedly being imported from Northern Ireland.

Brexit and the sterling exchange rate, along with northern lamb imports, are now being used by the factories as the stick to beat the lamb price at farm level, the chairman added.

This is totally unacceptable to farmers and eroding confidence at a critical time in the sheep year, when producers are making their plans for the breeding season, he said.

‘Irish sheep farmers cannot be disadvantaged’

This follows news last week that discussions took place between UK industry representatives and the IFA over the future of the lamb and sheep meat trade following Brexit.

Last Thursday, Lynskey outlined that Brexit is critical for the sheep sector – with important decisions to be made around the New Zealand lamb imports and the allocation of the Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) between the UK and the EU.

The chairman added that he met with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Agriculture and Hortulcural Development Board (AHDB) in the UK last week for a discussion on sheep issues, which included a discussion on how the TRQs on sheepmeat will be dealt with in Brexit.

Lynskey stressed that Irish and European sheep farmers cannot be disadvantaged.