The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has called on the Department of Agriculture to provide weekly reports on the number and origin of lambs imported into the Republic of Ireland.
There was a need for greater transparency around sheep imports, according to ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara.
“We know that in any given year approximately half a million lambs are imported into the Republic for slaughter. Sheep farmers deserve to know why these lambs are being brought in and in such big numbers, and why local producers are getting a raw deal.”
McNamara also called for transparency around which markets imported lambs serviced. Farmers needed a comprehensive explanation to assure them imported lambs were not sold as under the Origin Green label, he added.
McNamara also criticised what he said were double standards on weight limits. Local suppliers were being paid up to 21.5kg but the ICSA had heard some factories were prepared to pay up to 22kg for imported lambs, McNamara said.
“It is time they gave us an explanation for these double standards,” he said.
“ICSA members from around the country have been monitoring the situation at factories and it would appear the practice of differentiating between local and imported lambs on weight limits is widespread.”
“Sheep farmers want a level playing field. We see no reason at all for factories to be importing lambs from the north and elsewhere, and there certainly can be no justification for paying more for imported lambs,” he concluded.
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