South Down SDLP Parliamentary Candidate, Margaret Ritchie has urged the Ministers of Agriculture in the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government working together with those involved in the sheep and lamb industry to find a solution whereby lambs born and reared in Northern Ireland can continue to be sold at meat factories in the South of Ireland.
She said it is important that the ban placed on such exports from the 1st April is removed as quickly as possible.
Ms Ritchie: “The export of lambs and sheep from Northern Ireland for sale in the South of Ireland has been vital and fundamental to the local agricultural economy for years. I am told that approximately 45% of the total lambs produced in Northern Ireland are sold to factories in the South of Ireland for slaughter and processing purposes. Apparently, meat factories in the South of Ireland stopped taking lambs produced on farms in Northern Ireland from the 1st April this year. With the Nomad issue now moved to sheep production, this will cause financial problems for many farmers and rural communities which rely on sheep and lamb production.
“Undoubtedly, this new departure is due to the issue of food provenance, traceability and security. This is an important issue, but red tape should not be allowed to place a stranglehold on our lamb production in areas like South Down. A compromise has to be found to resolve this problem for those farmers involved in sheep production.
“I will be making direct representations to the Ministers of Agriculture in the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government to find a solution to this nomad sheep/lamb issue which ensures that our local agricultural economy does not suffer any financial detriment.”