The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said it is “demanding answers” from processors, asserting that lambs imported from the north are being processed before locally-supplied lambs.

Sean McNamara, the association’s sheep chairperson, claimed that northern lambs are “routinely” processed ahead of local supplies.

“Sheep farmers are very angry that imported lambs can jump the queue at factories,” McNamara said today (Monday, September 20).

“The knock-on effect is that local supplies are having to endure lengthy waits to be dealt with, despite arriving at the facility first.”

“The lack of respect shown to local suppliers is hard to stomach,” the ICSA sheep chair remarked.

According to McNamara, lambs could loose a notable amount of weight while waiting to be processed – reducing the price paid to the farmer.

“Given the huge number imported every week, the practice has now become widespread and is causing serious frustration amongst local farmers.

“It’s galling to see lambs losing thrive as they are made to wait while their imported counterparts are seen to first,” he said.

McNamara concluded: “It’s hard enough to make any sort of a margin as a sheep farmer, and it’s becoming even harder with this sort of carry on.”

Lambs and cull ewes ease back at marts

Lamb prices last week, similar to the previous week, have eased back again at marts to the tune of €3-5/head, going by what mart managers have been saying to Agriland.

Cuts in factory prices at the start of last week once again trickled down into the mart trade, with factory agents holding very firm on what they were willing to payout.

The general run of prices over the past week ranged from €111/head up to €120-124/head – with cases of prices rising to €126-128/head for lambs that were also gaining the attention of butchers.

The trade for heavy lambs remains solid, with a good butcher and wholesaler demand continuing to be seen for those types.