The Ulster Farmers’ Union has met with the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) to discuss the difficulties currently being experienced in the sheep trade with the price for hoggets having fallen sharply from £4.10kg to £3.20kg in the last four weeks and the price for spring lambs having also slipped from £4.60kg to £4.10kg.
UFU President Ian Marshall said: “The severe cut in price by processors is nothing short of irresponsible and it shows a clear disregard for the high cost finishing methods used in both hogget and spring lamb production. We firmly believe that there is a real onus on processors to inject stability back into the market place to ensure that producers receive a suitable return for their product as the price being offered currently is completely unsustainable. While there are undoubtedly a number of factors currently having an impact on price, including the significant weakening of the Euro, processors continue to use Country of Origin labelling as an excuse to add further uncertainty and unnecessary negativity into the market place.”
Mr Marshall continued: “With 90% of lamb slaughtered in ROI traditionally finding its way to European export markets both the UFU and IFA have agreed that there is an urgent need for Agriculture Minister’s Michelle O’Neill and Simon Coveney to identify a labelling solution which can help restore confidence in the market. There is scope within the legislation to introduce a voluntary label which can explain that our lamb has been reared in Northern Ireland and slaughtered in the Republic Of Ireland which should effectively provide the sufficient clarification customers require. With 45% of Northern Ireland lamb being exported live to ROI last year, making up 20% of the overall ROI kill, it is unacceptable that these labelling issues be allowed to distort trade and negatively impact on farmers on both sides of the border.”