‘Crisis in sheep sector must be averted’

IFA Sheep Chairperson Kevin Comiskey has strongly criticised factories for further cuts on lamb prices and said the weakening of prices at a time when production costs are at an all-time high is not acceptable and must stop.

  The IFA Sheep Chairperson said input costs on sheep farms has increased in the past 12 months by over 40 per cent and farmers do not have the capacity to absorb this level of cost increase which has eroded the income levels in an extremely vulnerable sector. 

  “Factories have failed to provide strong and meaningful prices to farmers who have invested in finishing lambs throughout this period and this week in particular which only serves to undermine confidence in the sector,” he said.

  The Sheep Chairperson said factories imposing weight cuts on lambs in an attempt to flatten prices is unacceptable and only sends negative messages to farmers committed to finishing lambs.

  “Direct payments make up over 100 per cent of FFI on sheep farms and farmers are becoming increasingly unviable in the sector with current prices and the failure of the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to provide meaningful direct supports to the sector,” he said.

  Meanwhile, Teagasc has forecasted margins from sheep production to decline further this year with current prices insufficient to cover the increased costs of production. 

  The outlook for 2023 forecasts feed prices to increase by a further 10 per cent with no weakening of fertiliser prices which have increased 195 per cent on 2021 levels. Other direct costs are forecasted to increase by 4 per cent in 2023. 

  Kevin Comiskey said there is real concern within the sector for the spring trade and action needs to be taken immediately to support farmers.