ICSA sheep chair, Sean McNamara, claims that processors are slashing sheep quotes “purely to frighten farmers into selling”.
His commentary comes as plants have moved to slash quotes by up to €40/hd in the last three weeks.
He said that factory-fit lambs are scarce on the ground. Therefore, sheep farmers are in a “strong” position to “resist these scare tactics and fight for a decent price”.
“Factories are trying to generate panic in the trade with consecutive and dramatic price cuts, but the reality is supplies are tight at the moment.”
“With the Eid al-Adha festival coming up from July 19th-23rd, the demand for lamb is out there – as it traditionally is for Eid.”
Commenting on price cuts, he stated: “It makes no sense, particularly when we know that major processors still importing large volumes of lamb carcasses from the UK on a weekly basis.”
“Our advice to farmers is to sell as hard as possible and to walk away if factories refuse to step up to the €6.50/kg mark at the very minimum.”
Sheep prices Northern Ireland
Farm groups in Northern Ireland have also vented their frustration, as factories have cut quotes by up to £0.60/kg this week.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has described the action as a “step too far”.
Its beef and lamb chair, Pat McKay, said:
“Last week, the average lamb price was £5.31/kg, and to drop it to £4.80/kg seems very unreasonable.”
“We were expecting the lamb trade to remain strong as the Eid Festival is due to start in mid-July.”
“The number of lambs sent for slaughter in Northern Ireland (NI) processing factories is higher for this season. Live exports to the Republic of Ireland (ROI) are significantly lower.”
“Over the last few weeks, there have been fewer ROI agents visiting our local markets, which is concerning.”
“Especially when the NI lamb price is well behind what is being given in ROI, which is €6.40/kg (£5.50/kg). Meanwhile, the Great Britain price was £5.87/kg last week. Our local farmers are at a serious disadvantage.”