A farm organisation has called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Barry Cowen, to address the issue of sheep imports as a matter of urgency.
Figures obtained show that in any given year, approximately 500,000 lambs are imported into the Republic for slaughter, according to ICSA sheep chair, Sean McNamara.
“Is it any wonder Irish sheep farmers have a hard time selling their stock or getting a fair price?”
Action from DAFM
He said the farm lobby group is calling on the Department of Agriculture to provide:
- Weekly reports on the number of lambs imported, and from where;
- Full transparency around which markets these imported lambs are servicing;
- A comprehensive explanation on how farmers can be assured these lambs are not being sold as Origin Green lambs;
- An outline of the veterinary protocols imposed and traceability requirements on all lambs at the point of export before they come to Irish meat factories.
‘Many sheep farmers see no future’
McNamara said stressed that as an exporting country, sheep farmers deserve to know why these lambs are being brought in and in such big numbers.
“If the purpose is not to keep a lid on prices, then what is it? Why do processors need to go elsewhere to procure up to 10,000 lambs a week when local farmers would be prepared to supply the desired numbers, given a fair price.”
“This lack of a fair price is precisely the reason so many of our sheep farmers can see no future.”
“We also know that around 20% of lambs imported are coming from further afield than the north of Ireland, and there are significant costs associated with bringing them in.”
“It is clear this is being done at the expense of local producers who constantly get hammered on price. It’s time for a determined effort to level the playing field.” McNamara concluded.