The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) is renewing calls for Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to come forward with top-up sheep farmer payments as falling lamb prices hit cashflow on farms.
An additional per-ewe payment is needed to “safeguard” sheep farmer livelihoods, as factory cuts over the summer months filter down to the store lamb trade, INHFA vice-president Micheal McDonnell has said.
“With the week-on-week fall in price, the sector is in a dire position - a scenario that we anticipated last spring when we earnestly called upon the Minister for Agriculture to implement a meaningful payment per ewe for the sheep sector,” he commented.
McDonnell stated that sheep farmers’ cashflow struggles are being “compounded” by a delay of around one month in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme payments to farmers.
“The pressure weighing down on the store lamb price has been further exacerbated by the fact that many traditional tillage farmers, who were crucial in the lamb store market, are no longer engaged in the practice.
“This shift in behaviour is primarily attributed to the new good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAEC) rules for tillage farmers, which have discouraged them from planting crops for sheep.
“This ongoing fall in the market price comes on the heels of the sheep sector grappling with increased costs, including those associated with shearing, while simultaneously facing the predicament of no market for wool,” he said.