Anger over ridiculously low lamb weight limits being imposed by processors

17/5/2018. Loughrea Sheep Mart
Lot Number 196
Weight 46.5K
Quantity 11
Type Lambs
Price €142
Photo Brian Farrell
17/5/2018. Loughrea Sheep Mart Lot Number 196 Weight 46.5K Quantity 11 Type Lambs Price €142 Photo Brian Farrell
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Calls have been made for meat factories to up the weight limit for payment on spring lamb.

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks claimed the current weight limit is "ridiculously low at 20.5kg when it really should be a minimum of 22kg".

He said the weight limits being imposed by processors also means that farmers are having to sell lambs too early.

“ICSA understands the butcher trade, which has traditionally underpinned the spring lamb trade, have been frustrated with lambs being marketed too light through the marts.

"Ideally, they are looking for carcass weights of 22+kg but with meat factories conditioning farmers into dubious lower weight limits, lambs at this optimum weight are scarce.”

Brooks said these weight limits are also beginning to really hit hard now that we have seen factories imposing an unjustifiable €10 /head price drop this week.

"Factories have been far too quick to talk down the trade and indeed there are signals of a further unjustifiable price drop next week.”

Mr Brooks has also called on Minister Creed to pay out the balance owed to farmers through the Sheep Welfare Scheme as a matter of urgency.

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 “Balancing payments have been promised but so far have failed to materialise for many. ICSA understands that delays of up until the end of June are possible which is totally unacceptable.”

“In addition, Minister Creed needs to make an allowance for culling non-productive ewes at this time. This would require flexibility within the scheme but it is absolutely necessary to prevent a crash in ewe prices later in the year.

"With fodder and cashflow problems plaguing farmers this year, having to hold on to unproductive ewes makes no sense at all.

"Farmers should be allowed to sell theses ewes now with the provision to get their numbers back up by mid-September and still remain compliant with the scheme and avoid penalties.”

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