Increasing sheep production will not result in higher prices – ICSA

The ICSA has criticised the stance taken by sheep factories on its prediction of a one million head increase in sheep throughput in the coming years.

Earlier this week, Meat Industry Ireland (the association representing meat factories) presented an ambitious plan to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, for the sheepmeat sector over the next five years.

The plan envisages significant additional lamb output of one million per year built on a programme aimed at rebuilding the national breeding flock to 3m ewes.

However, the ICSA Sheep Chairman John Brooks has questioned how the scheme will benefit Irish sheep farmers.

This is a great proposal for sheep factories. Get farmers to work harder to produce more sheepmeat and the surplus output will help to drive down prices. What’s in this for farmers?”

“There is no indication of any priority being given to securing an increase in incomes above the current average of just €16,000 per annum for sheep farmers,” Brooks said.

Brooks also said that farmers have seen the meat industry pulling prices when numbers have increased slightly.

“Experience would suggest that increased production does not equate to increased prices, in fact, it is quite the opposite.

“The beneficiaries in the long term would be the processors alone,” he said.

The ICSA representative also said that these proposals would place an even greater cost burden onto sheep farmers, including EID tagging, when there is no evidence of any real benefit to the producer.

“ICSA believes that any development plan for the sheepmeat sector should have the interests of the producer at its core and look at ways to boost income”, he said.