Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) sheep chair Adrian Gallagher has hit out at factories for attempting to undermine the sheep trade.

He said spring lamb numbers are still tight on the ground and buying is still taking place for the important festival of Eid al-Adha festival in mid-June.

“The level of cuts attempted by factories runs the risk of undermining the trade in our key export markets and sets the sector on a very dangerous path for the remainder of the year,” he said.

Factories here are trying to drag the price down in a manner that’s way ahead of the direction of travel of prices in our key markets over the past few weeks, according to the IFA sheep chair. He described it as “unacceptable” and said that it must stop.

Responsible pricing

Adrian Gallagher said supplies of sheepmeat produced in the EU and the UK will be down this year. He called on factories to be responsible in their pricing of lambs and hoggets and to maximise returns from the marketplace for sheep farmers.

He also hit out at supermarkets for using cheap, chilled and frozen imported sheepmeat to undermine prices to local suppliers and said that factories should not engage in a race to the bottom on price.

“Sheep farming is a low-income vulnerable sector carried out to the highest environmental standards on farms.

"Supermarkets cannot on the one hand look to promote their green credentials while on the other using cheap imports to undermine the viability of local producers,” he said.