Rising prices being paid by factories for sheep are not keeping pace with the input cost increases incurred by sheep farmers, says the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

IFA sheep chair Kevin Comiskey described how hogget and cull ewe prices have risen again this week due to strong market demand as the “start of Ramadan and Easter [is] approaching”.

He highlighted that sheep supplies are tight and said that factories have had to move prices on.

Comiskey said hogget deals are available at €7.50/kg, with no talk of weight cuts as factories try to close out deals.

He said cull ewes are making up to €4/kg and the limited numbers of spring lamb on offer are coming in at €8/kg in general, with some deals above this.

Not offsetting

However, Comiskey said these increased prices are not offsetting the huge cost increases sheep farmers are exposed to this year.

“Based on Teagasc figures, fertiliser increases of €10 to €15 per ewe this year will cost the sector up to €40m before compound feed, fuel and contractor costs are accounted for,” he said.

He said sheep farming is a low-income sector that does not have the capacity to absorb these increases.

Comiskey said there is real concern within the sector for the store lamb trade later this year if actions are not taken to support this key aspect of our production system.

He warned that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must ensure sheep farmers are “directly supported” in the €48m crisis fund that is available.

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Store lamb trade ‘first to suffer’ from fertiliser and feed challenges – IFA