Imports of Northern Irish lambs surge back after slow June

Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Imports of lambs from Northern Ireland increased dramatically recently following a fall-off in recent months.

Latest data for the week ending July 27 showed 7,514 lambs were imported from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter, up some 2,580 head from the previous week.

The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in Northern Ireland had noted a drop in demand for Northern Irish lambs from processing plants in here. During the six weeks ending July 20, 29,858 lambs were exported from Northern Ireland which was back from 35,424 head in the same six week period in 2018. 

This accounted for a 19pc decline year on year. 

Despite the reduction in the number of NI origin of lambs being exported to ROI for direct slaughter in recent weeks unrestricted access to this market is vital for the Northern sheep sector, the LMC has stressed. During the last six weeks, 36pc of lamb output from Northern Ireland's sheep flock was exported across the border for direct slaughter. 

In the same period, last year 44pc of Northern lambs were exported for direct slaughter in ROI.

The ICSA has been critical of the importation of lambs from Northern Ireland. 

At a recent protest outside Kepak Athleague, its chairman Sean McNamara said farmers were very angry at the way in which lambs are being imported from Northern Ireland

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He claimed it was being done to undermine the price for local lambs. 

"This is not good enough. Factories have built empires on the work of Irish suppliers, and they need to show some loyalty rather than squeezing farmers at every opportunity,” he said.  

Online Editors

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