The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has advised sheep farmers to take a strong stance with factories on price.

The organisation’s sheep chair, Sean McNamara, has said that producers should not accept anything less than €7/kg for hoggets over the course of the coming weeks.

“Factories are doing everything in their power to chip away at prices so we must do everything in our power to resist them.

“As sheep farmers our cost of production is upwards of €7/kg and rising all the time, so we are only demanding what is fair. It is imperative that we hold the line at €7/kg at the very minimum,” he advised.

Sheep demand

“We know the demand is there when we see factory agents heading to the marts and buying up all around them, with heavy ewe lambs in particular making €10-€15/head more than they are making in the factories,” he added.

McNamara claimed that factories were continuing to bring in “truckloads” of live lambs and animals in carcass form from Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

“This is an on-going practice and can only be described as a cynical attempt to weaken the negotiating position of local suppliers.

“This is what we are up against, and this is why we all must hold firm on prices when selling our stock that we have worked so hard to produce,” he outlined.

McNamara also claimed that factories had been penalising carcasses of 25kg and above.

“Reports are coming in of a very heavy-handed cut-off point of €135/head being imposed on carcass weights of 25kg and over.

“At €7/kg these lambs should be hitting the €161 mark with a 23kg weight limit. That is a €26 hit that no sheep farmer can afford. Anyone with heavier lambs would be well advised to go to the mart instead,” the ICSA sheep chair concluded.