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Lack of light lamb market affecting farmer income – INHFA
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Lack of light lamb market affecting farmer income – INHFA

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The INHFA has said that the re-establishment of the light lamb market is a critical component in the delivery of a better price for all sheep farmers.
The INHFA has said that the re-establishment of the light lamb market is a critical component in the delivery of a better price for all sheep farmers.

Brendan Joyce, livestock chair of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA), has hit out at the lack of a light lamb market for sheep farmers.

Joyce said that the lack of markets for these lambs is leaving farmers with no other option but to finish them as hoggetts in spring, which is impacting on the early lamb market.

“The poor return for early lamb is then forcing these farmers to mid-season lamb, which is delivering an over-supply, especially as we move into autumn,” said Joyce.

Lamb prices

Lamb prices continue to fall, with farmers being quoted €4.30 to €4.40/kg for quality assured French lamb. This is running at 50c/kg (€10/head) behind where they were last year, according to the INHFA.

Prices like this are not sustainable but it will get worse in coming years if action is not taken

For light lambs, the situation is worse, Joyce said. Quotes from factories are difficult to secure, and those that are quoting lambs less than 15kg are offering around €4/kg.

“Prices like this are not sustainable but it will get worse in coming years if action is not taken,” said Joyce.

Increased sheep numbers on the commonages

The chair added that, looking ahead, there is a real concern that increased sheep numbers on the commonages (driven by the commonage plans) will drive prices down further.

What we need to see happen is for Minister for Agriculture Creed to take control of this and focus resources on trying to deliver a light lamb market

Joyce called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to forestall this threat.

“What we need to see happen is for Minister for Agriculture Creed to take control of this and focus resources on trying to deliver a light lamb market,” stated Joyce.

“We believe there are market opportunities in North Africa and inside the EU,” maintained Joyce.

Minister Creed is in fact headed for Algeria and Morocco this week to try to secure new markets for Irish food. The mission, however, is understood to be focusing on promoting Irish dairy products.

The INHFA has also called on Minister Creed to set up a working group from all relevant stakeholders to look at market opportunities and the possibility of an organic label for hill lambs, which would aid in its marketability.

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