Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Traceability at risk from UK sheep imports warn ICSA

Farming Independent Team

The ICSA has warned that high levels of sheep imports from Northern Ireland and Britain raises serious questions around labelling and the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme.

The association's sheep chairman John Brooks pointed out this week that processors in the Republic imported 3,680 tonnes of sheep meat last year, of which 3,395 tonnes came from Britain.

The figures were supplied by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed in response to a Dáil question from Tipperary TD Jackie cahill.

"If you calculate on the basis of a 20kg lamb carcass this equates to approximately 170,000 sheep," said Mr Brooks.

"This also equates to approximately one full month's lamb kill," he added.

"If you add to this the significant number of live sheep imported for direct slaughter from Britain, it raises serious questions and doubts as to traceability and labelling. It also casts a cloud over 'Origin Green' and the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme," Brooks claimed.

There has been growing farmer frustration at the low prices being quoted by factories for new season lamb this Easter. Factories quoted a top of €6.20/kg this week, with the small numbers available in the marts making up to €125-128/hd.

IFA's sheep chairman John Lynskey reiterated that a price of €7/kg for spring lamb was essential for early season producers.

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In addition, he said factories would need to pay to 21kgs or 21.5kgs in order to ensure a reasonable return to farmers.

While Mr Lynskey accepted that there were a relatively small number of the country's 30,000 sheep farmers who targeted the early lamb trade, he insisted that this was a top quality product that deserved a premium price.

Lynskey predicted strong demand for lamb over the next two months as this week's Easter festival is followed by Ramadan in late May. He said hogget supplies had tightened this week, with factories finding it more difficult to get stock at the €5.00-5.10/kg being quoted.

He said ewes were making from €2.80/kg to €3.20/kg.

Indo Farming