Over 9,000 lambs imported at height of beef protests

Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Imports of lambs from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter increased significantly at the height of the Beef Plan Movement's protests at meat plants nationwide.

According to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in Northern Ireland, imports were up 1,571 head during the week ending August 10 compared to the previous week to 9,255 head and were the highest level recorded to date in 2019.

Over the course of the two-week protest, the sheep kill was back 17pc and 13pc when compared to the same weeks in 2018.

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 here during the spring. During the six weeks ending July 20, 29,858 lambs were imported 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 imported across the border for direct slaughter.

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

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