ICSA held a protest at Irish Country Meats (ICM) in Navan last Friday. The protest, which was led by ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks, was organised to highlight the anger of Irish lamb producers at the low prices they are currently achieving for their produce.
Speaking at the protest Mr Brooks said: “There is widespread frustration that meat plants are endeavouring to keep factory quotes down at +/-€4.75 per kg when the mid-January price for lamb in 2015 and 2016 was heading for €5.50/kg for up to 24kgs. Also, particularly annoying is that some sheep meat plants are trying to introduce a weight limit of 22.5kgs. It is for these reasons the ICSA sheep committee decided to stage this protest today.”
“It has come to this as we now have a situation where farmers are losing money. Overall throughout numbers are more or less the same this year as any other recent year. However, because of very favourable weather conditions in November/December lamb thrive has been better than normal and therefore current supplies of slaughter fit lambs is temporarily slightly up. Adding to this are suggestions that Scottish lambs are being imported for slaughter in this country. It would really be a low blow to saturate an already flooded market in this manner. There could be only one reason; to depress prices further.”
“Only in the last year we heard calls from the meat industry for farmers to increase production on the promise there was huge potential for growth and markets to be exploited. Yet the only ones being exploited are the lamb producers themselves due to a small increase in lamb supplies. The response from meat plants has been a double whammy; reducing price and reducing weight limits in order to take money out of sheep farmers’ pockets to feed their greed for huge profit margins.
“Just weeks into the New Year and the meat plants have effectively grabbed the €10 euro per head sheep welfare scheme from producers without having any application, tasks, compliance issues or paper work to complete. The attitude of meat plants is driven by short term gain but it is very negative long-term. For the industry to thrive there must be trust and solidarity between all stakeholders.”