The ICSA renewed its call to the government for further support to the sheep sector as it has been “the worst hit by Brexit’’ at a crisis meeting held in Carrick-on-Shannon on Tuesday night. Secretary Eddie Punch warned “meat processors are going to have to find a way to return a better price” to farmers for lamb, but also highlighted that “there is unfinished business in the lack of support for the sheep sector by the government, where despite our best efforts we have a sheep scheme worth €12 per ewe”.

The group is seeking support from the Brexit crisis fund, with the weak euro as a result of Brexit, plus the trade deals that the UK have made with Australia and New Zealand, leading to Irish lamb being less competitive price-wise.

Sheep chair Sean McNamara highlighted his frustration with current prices and the length of time it was taking to access valuable Chinese and US markets as the UK and home market comes under pressure.

Bord Bia representative Seamus McMenamin said the approval of factories for the Chinese market had been almost complete before the COVID-19 pandemic, with these factories having to restart the process after restrictions had lifted.

Bord Bia has a suite of campaigns ready for these markets, but cannot actively market Irish lamb until product starts enter the US and China.