Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 March 2018

Why these Midland sheep farmers are getting 20c/kg more for their lambs

Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Sheep farmers in the midlands are proving that flocking together is their best defence against a tough financial outlook.

Over the last two years, the decade-old Longford Westmeath Lamb Producer Group, has experienced a significant 50pc increase in membership.

With almost 100 lowland sheep producers, specialising in Texel cross, Belclare cross and Suffolk cross, now signed up, members are reaping multiple rewards.

James Belton, chairman of the group, says members have greater negotiating power with Kepak Athleague, where the group currently sells between 300-350 lambs on a weekly basis.

"It puts us in a position to negotiate higher prices so producer groups are definitely the most economical way forward for sheep farmers.

"We negotiate a price that is always substantially better than base price put out by the factories, it's usually in the region of 20c/kg over it," he said.

Mr Belton, who has been involved for almost a decade, says membership offers invaluable convenience for local farmers, who all live within a 12 mile radius of Ballymahon mart where the lambs are loaded for haulage on Monday evenings and Tuesday mornings. Members are also privy to wool selling, vaccination and a "significant" discount insurance deal with FBD.

"The social element is key for local farmers too, it is playing a key role in preventing and reducing rural isolation," he said.

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The group, which works "hand in glove" with Teagasc advisors in both counties, also ensures that one of their farmer representatives is present at the factory on the day of their kill.

"It's important for peace of mind for the farmer to know somebody is looking after their livestock," he said.

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