Truckloads of lambs arriving from the UK: ‘It’s a disgrace’- ICSA

“Imports of lambs are causing huge disruption for local farmers who can’t even get quotes for such animals. At the same time they see truckloads of lambs arriving on UK-registered lorries. It’s a disgrace.”

This strongly-worded message was from the Sheep Committee chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) – Sean McNamara. He made the comment as he called on the Department of Agriculture to publish the number of lambs that have been imported from Northern Ireland and Great Britain since the beginning of the year.

He explained: “Processors are constantly playing a numbers game with their suppliers. They are using these imported lambs to keep prices down.

“The ICSA understands that at one factory in Leinster one-third of the lambs being processed were from England or Northern Ireland. This has to stop if sheep farmers are to have any hope of covering their cost of production.”

Continuing, McNamara said:

As it currently stands, many sheep farmers can see no point in continuing to produce lambs when they are being consistently undermined by the influx of imported lambs.

“Week after week they see their hard work amounting to nothing, while processors pull all the strings. This is causing untold frustration amongst farmers who just want to be treated fairly. This is why we need clarity on how many lambs are coming in…and why,” he concluded.

Beef support scheme

In other ICSA-related news, the organisation set out its position on its desired distribution of the €50 million fund for the beef finisher support package.

The Beef Committee chair of the ICSA – Edmund Graham – said: “The priority is to see the entirety of the fund allocated appropriately and fairly.”

Also Read: Beef support scheme: ‘Livestock from feed-lots owned by factories should be ineligible’

He explained: “The €50 million should be divided equally among all eligible animals for which an application has been submitted. The scheme should not operate on the basis of a fixed amount per head, because that would run the risk of unused funds reverting back to the exchequer.”

Continuing, Graham said:

It’s important to note that €50 million is insufficient to cover the losses incurred by beef finishers. The ICSA believes that weanling and store producers, as well as sheep farmers, have also been impacted by Covid-19. However, for the purposes of this fund, strict eligibility criteria should apply.

He explained: “The fund should be allocated on the basis of cattle sold in the period from December 2019 to June 10, 2020. This timeframe would orientate the compensation towards higher-cost winter finishers who would have anticipated a better market had Covid-19 not arisen.”