The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) is speaking out today in support of the country’s sheep farmers, who are facing a range of challenges that is impacting their livelihoods.
The situation facing sheep farmers in Ireland is becoming increasingly dire,” says Michael McDonnell, Vice President of the INHFA. “We urge the government to take immediate action to address these challenges and support our farmers, who are the backbone of the rural economy.”
The INHFA Vice President went on to say that “an immediate pressing issue is the current price of lamb which is over €20 euro behind last year’s price for a 22kg lamb carcass. This price drop is having a devastating impact on farmers, many of whom are already operating on very tight margins. This will have serious consequences for next summer’s store trade because a lot of those finishers will not be at the ringside.”
Other issues that are also having a devastating impact within the industry are, he stated.
• “The Rising input costs as regards concentrates and fertiliser and this is finally coming home to reality as farmers start the feeding of lambing flock
• The sale of Kildare Chilling, one of the largest processors of lamb in Ireland, has also raised concerns about the loss of competition in the market, which could further squeeze farmers’ incomes.
• Our Wool Market is on the floor and will soon be a huge problem as sheds are full of wool and no market outlet.
• No New Market access for our lamb produce to open up, where we can send our produce.
• The high percentage of sheep flocks that are located on hills and marginal lands, where farmers are unable to change enterprises due to the Commonage framework plans and designations. This leaves many farmers in a situation where they are forced to continue producing at a loss-making exercise.”
As a response to these issues the INHFA are, he stated “seeking clarity on the number of farmers that have applied for the Sheep Improvement Scheme and at a starting point ensure that any unspent funds here are immediately targeted into the sector.”
Beyond this there will, he added “be a requirement for additional funding which may be achievable through the Brexit fund.”
Concluding, the INHFA Leader stressed “how we are committed to working with the Government in finding solutions to these challenges while ensuring that our farmers can continue to provide high-quality lamb while maintaining their livelihoods.”