THE NFU has said that farmers in Britain are now losing on average £29 for every lamb they sell at market after new figures revealed farm gate prices had dropped by a fifth in the past year.
With lamb prices at their lowest for three years the situation for farmers has been made worse by rising production costs due to the extreme weather in 2012. Impacts from the new lamb-deforming disease Schmallenberg are also being felt with the spring lamb season about to get underway.
The NFU is calling for retailers to demonstrate genuine commitment to their British suppliers and customers after a 22 per cent fall in the farmgate lamb price despite an increase in price on the supermarket shelves.
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “Farmers are working hard to stay on top of a really tough situation but we are now faced with really challenging conditions on the world market while seeing a considerable reduction in the price that our own retailers pay. This isn’t helped by more imported cheaper lamb products on supermarket shelves. What puzzles me is that prices to consumers have remained high. Demand from consumers has also remained strong, so what’s happening; where is the money going?
“I want to see a thriving British lamb sector, crucial if we are to attract young people to work in our industry, so retailers have to start working more closely with their British lamb supply base to help meet some of the challenges being faced. And we need our customers - the consumer - to reap some of the benefit too.”
With the EU promising to agree a CAP reform package in the coming months the NFU also stressed the importance of ensuing a fair deal to support English farmers.
“As CAP reform discussions continue we cannot ignore the fact that many sheep farmers are currently struggling to make ends meet in this new market-driven environment,” said Mr Sercombe. “Direct payments to farmers are currently a vital lifeline; the only way we can ride-out the volatility of world markets. If this goes, many sheep farmers and their families face a very uncertain future indeed.”