Sheep prices slump kills 2020 harvest target hopes
Food harvest targets of a 20pc increase in sheep output value by 2020 are all but dead in the face of falling sheep prices, the ICSA has claimed.
Sheep factory prices are currently hovering around €4.85/kg, some 16pc lower than the same time last year, which the farm organisation says is linked to the 5.8pc increase in sheep throughput compared to 2011.
ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said the recent downward spiral in prices for sheep and lambs made all talk of increased production seem "ridiculous".
"Farmers are getting horrendously low prices for their stock as a result of a fairly minor increase in numbers," he said.
"I would go as far as to say that the drive for expansion proposed by Food Harvest 2020 is all over for sheep farmers."
Mr Gilmartin maintained that falling sheep prices called into question whether increased production was desirable from a farmer's viewpoint.
"The 5.8pc increase equates to somewhere between 38,000 and 40,000 extra sheep. If the market can't handle this, what's the point in talking about further expansion under Food Harvest 2020?" said ICSA sheep chairman Paul Brady.
He added that the price pressure was being exacerbated by factories cutting the carcase weights on which prices were being calculated.