IFA officials met with senior vets in the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine again this week over what the organisation describes as the ongoing problems with the ‘over the top’ implementation of the Clean Sheep Policy by the Department at the lamb factories.
IFA’s national sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy said analysis showed that more than 900 lambs per day, or between 7% and 9% of the kill were being classified as Category C and ordered home or back to farm by the Department.
“This approach cannot continue as it is imposing major unnecessary costs on farmers,” he fumed, before pointing to the fact that the move was not even provided for under EU regulations, and was seriously disrupting the normal sale of sheep.
“While up to 93% of sheep are categorised A and B and deemed suitable for slaughter, it was never the intention under the Clean Sheep Policy that sheep would be sent home or that the Department would insist on full shearing of some sheep.
“This approach is way over the top and has to stop; both factories and farmers are reporting a complete lack of consistency on the policy between plants and vets.”
The IFA sheep farmer leader then accused the Department of breaching its own protocol on the Clean Sheep Policy.
“Nowhere in the policy is there reference to sending home consignments of lambs or using arbitrary figures of 10% Category C to refuse loads of lambs,” Mr Dennehy continued.
“In addition, it was never intended that farmers would have to fully shear some sheep. There is rising frustration among sheep farmers at the way they are being treated under the Clean Sheep Policy.
“Sheep farmers will do their best to have their animals as clean as possible but the Department and the factories have to be practical and take account of the difficult weather conditions.
“Sheep farmers are getting very fed up with the way their livelihoods are being threatened.”
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