'Base price of €7/kg needed to cover rising sheep sector costs'
The IFA has warned that early lamb producers will need a base price of more than €7/kg to cover the increased costs of the enterprise.
The association's national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said the market for early lamb was looking extremely promising at the moment, given that hogget prices were heading close to €6/kg.
"Taking account of the very high costs this winter, early lamb producers need well in excess of €7/kg," Mr Dennehy said.
While factories are still two weeks off quoting for early season lamb, prices are expected to be 40-50c/kg ahead of 630c/kg which was offered early in the season last year.
Sheep farmer Rob Storey in Dunlavin, Co Wicklow believes those producing lamb for the Easter market will need a significant price boost if they are to stay in the business.
Mr Storey said the reality was that early lamb producers were a "dying breed". "If it wasn't for our local butcher Myles Doyle in Dunlavin who we supply, we wouldn't bother with it," said Mr Storey, who farms with his father Eddie.
"It wouldn't be worth our while for the amount of work and time that goes into it, in the cold and wet as well," he added.
"I think a lot are backing out of it. There is such an overhang of later lamb, there are hoggets into the end of April/May. So the early lamb is suffering.