Farmers cry foul as lamb prices slashed again
With the All-Ireland football final coming up on Sunday, the country awaits a game that has the potential to be both classy and physical, with maybe a bit of handbags off the ball.
In the sheep business at present, farmers could feel justified in appealing to the ref as they see yet another 10c/kg sliced off quotes in the majority of factories this week.
Indeed the only two plants to stand on their quote from last week are Kepak Athleague (€4.70/kg plus 5c/kg bonus) and Moyvalley Meats (€4.70/kg).
However, Kepak showed the studs in hammering their price for cull ewes by 20c/kg, bringing them back broadly in line with Dawn Ballyhaunis and the two ICMs at €2.40/kg with Kepak's 5c/kg bonus just keeping them off the floor.
That said, the other three also went into the notebook as they dropped their ewe quotes by 10c/kg in unison from last week's €2.50/kg.
However, it's quotes as low as €4.50/kg plus bonus of 10c/kg that have got sheep farmers really riled. John Brooks of ICSA accused the ICM group of "playing the man and not the ball" in relation to their pricing.
"What do they think they are at? Everybody knows that the competition are keen at €4.90-5.00/kg," he added.
That may be the case but the reality is that while Kepak, Kildare and Moyvalley may well be paying above their official quotes, they too have snuck back prices over the last two weeks by 20c/kg.
Mr Brooks also points out that the number of factory-fit lambs going through the marts is falling as poor weather conditions has led to reduced thrive.
It's an opinion echoed by both Nelius McAuliffe of Dingle mart and Ivan Moffitt of Drumshambo.
John Lynskey of IFA summed up farmer anger, pointing out that they "feel imported lambs from Northern Ireland are been used by the factories to cut prices to local suppliers".
This is a real live example of how the weakness of sterling can undermine an Irish industry. However, it's not the Brits doing the undermining.
In relation to those imports, the Livestock and Meats Commission of Northern Ireland reckons the number of lamb exported into the Republic in the 12 weeks leading up to September 1 to be 73,884, as opposed to 68,137 for the same period in 2016.
To finish up, Dawn Ballyhaunis didn't quote for lamb this week so maybe like their county's football team, they will have pleasantly surprised us with a good result come Sunday evening.
While the trade for heavier butcher-type lambs has become sluggish at marts, the store trade is getting into full swing, with large numbers going through the system.
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