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'Confidence still fragile'

Sheep farmers need a further price rise this year to bolster the fragile confidence that has been built in the sector, the IFA has insisted.

IFA sheep chairman James Murphy has called on processors and retailers to think about the message they were sending to farmers when setting lamb prices during this year.

"Average prices in 2011 need to be higher than 2010 to account for increased costs of meal, fertiliser and oil," Mr Murphy said.

"While we bounced back well in 2010 after some terrible years, we need to see a continued growth in lamb price. One swallow will not make a summer."

He added that processors were currently benefiting from a significant increase in the value of the fifth quarter, and that sheep farmers were not being paid for this.

"Today's confidence in the sheep sector is very fragile and could be blown to pieces by a major fall in price," he warned.

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming