Factories placing false ceiling on lamb price, claim hill farmers.

A taskforce to tackle ongoing differences between sheep producers and processors around pricing, weight limits and the sourcing of lambs has been called for by the INHFA.

The hill farmer body accused processors of attempting to put a ceiling on sheep prices by imposing strict weight limits on lambs supplies for slaughter. Most factories are just paying up 21.5kgs, but further penalties have been imposed.

Farmers report penalties of up 50c/kg being levied by some plants on lambs over 25kgs. These heavy lambs were being bought last week for €3.90-4.00/kg, with this price paid to a maximum of 21.5kgs. As a consequence, stock over 25/kg made just €86/hd, when the same animals could have made a base of €112/hd if €4.50kg was paid on their full weight.
The processors insist that there is no market for heavy lamb and that farmers must slaughter stock at the correct weights.

However, INHFA president, Colm O’Donnell, said the strict weight limits policy being operated by the factories was essentially a mechanism to cap lamb prices at under €100/hd.
He said the measure was prompting “growing anger amongst farmers”. Mr O’Donnell said a task force along the lines of the beef task force – which has yet to meet – was “urgently required” for the sheep sector.