With the current cost of producing lamb, sheep farmers are not going to survive, according to Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) sheep chair Seán McNamara.

He demanded more support from Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, the factories and Bord Bia at a protest outside the Dáil on Tuesday.

The ICSA is demanding that the Government comes forward with an emergency support package of €50m for sheep farmers – to be funded from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

It also wants the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS) increased to €30/ewe and an extra €5/ewe for correct presentation of wool.

Glenn Keogh

Oldtown Co Meath

“We can’t sustain what we are doing. We are spending money and not getting it back. I’ve never seen inputs so high and lamb price so low. Unless someone steps in and does something, we are gone.

“We can maybe last six months or a year but we can’t go into another year losing money like this. No business could.

“I don’t want to go, I know an awful lot about farming, I’m 50 years at it. I used to keep about 3,000 ewes and now keep around the 1,000 mark.

“I’m doing it on my own. It’s hard work and I don’t mind, but if you are doing that and not getting financially rewarded it’s mentally and physically draining.”

Adam Garland

Clontibret, Co Monaghan

“I’m 24 years of age, and I can’t afford to take a wage – I’m working for nothing.

“The sheep we are killing at the minute are dying at a loss of €20/head. We lamb 80 ewes and we buy in about 150 store lambs. I probably won’t buy in as many stores this year.

“I’d like to be paid a fair price for my lamb. We shouldn’t have to be shouting to the Government to subsidise us. There was no reason for the prices to be pulled.”

Gabriel Gilmartin

Ballintrillick, Sligo

“Sheep farming is absolutely on its last legs.

“The Sheep Improvement Scheme needs to be drastically improved and we are talking somewhere between €20 and €30/ewe.

“The spin off effect from the sheep industry is huge and not taken into consideration enough.

“The amount of people working in factories, the amount of hauliers hauling sheep, and what the sector is worth in millions to the economy is being completely ignored.”

Seán McNamara

ICSA sheep president

“We want the ewe premium to rise to €30/ewe because at the moment the sector is no longer viable. We want to see a future for older and younger sheep farmers.

“It is currently costing €7.20/kg to produce lamb. How can we be expected to take €6/kg [from factories]?

“If they are not prepared to pay us a decent price for our produce, they can do without it. We’re losing at least €30 per lamb.

“I’m saying to the ministers today that they need to act and act fast. The day of the few pound is gone, we need real money.”

Dermot Kelleher

ICSA president

“The sheep sector is in serious trouble and we believe if something isn’t done it’ll be all over.

“We’re here to ask every TD inside in the Dáil to either see the sheep sector supported or see it shut down.

“The costs are gone mental. A lot of our troubles are coming from Brexit and there’s a whole lot of money in the Brexit Reserve Fund and some of that should be used to help sheep farmers. We are being hit from all sides.”