The re-establishment of the light lamb market has being identified as a critical component in the delivery of a better price for all sheep farmers.
Livestock Chair of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) Brendan Joyce outlined how the lack of markets for these lambs is leaving farmers with no other option only to finish them as hoggetts in spring which is impacting on the early lamb market.
“The poor return for early lamb is then forcing these farmers to mid-season lamb which is delivering an over-supply, especially as we move into autumn,” said Joyce.
Lamb prices continue to fall with farmers being quoted €4.30-4.40/kg for quality assured French lamb. This is running at 50c/kg (€10/head) behind where they were last year. in its marketability.
For light lambs the situation is worse. Quotes from factories are difficult to secure, and those that are quoting lambs less than 15kg are offering around €4/kg.
“Prices like this are not sustainable but it will get worse in coming years if action is not taken,” said Joyce.
Looking ahead, there is a real concern that increased sheep numbers on the commonages, (driven by the commonage plans) will drive prices down further.
“What we need to see happen is for Minister Creed to take control of this and focus resources in trying to deliver a light lamb market,” stated Joyce. “We believe there are market opportunities in North Africa and inside the EU,” maintained Joyce.
The INHFA called on Minister Creed to set up a working group from all relevant stakeholders to look at market opportunities and the possibility of an organic label for hill lambs which would aid