Angry sheep farmers stage protest at Irish Country Meats plant
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association held a protest outside Irish Country Meats, Camolin, which is Ireland's largest sheep meet processor, and since then the Irish Farmers Association have stepped in to support the cause.
'We are going to take more action if things don't change. We'll protest outside factories with the aim to close them down. If they aren't going to take our lambs, we will go out of business,' said ICSA sheep chairperson Sean McNamara.
Following the protest The Irish Farmers Association met with senior management in Irish Country Meats in Camolin, and further meetings took place between Irish Country Meats and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association.
'We left the management in no doubt about the anger among sheep farmers over the way factories have savaged lamb prices and destroyed farm incomes,' said IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy.
Demands were made for factories like Irish Country Meats to stabilise and restore lamb prices.
'We put a strong case to Irish Country Meats to increase the Bord Bia Quality Assurance bonus to 30 cent per kg. We also made it clear if the factories want lighter in-spec lamb, they need to pay a worthwhile price premium to farmers,' said Sean.
About 75 farmers from across the country took to the picket lines, when the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association gathered outside Irish Country Meats in Camolin holding placards that read 'stop fleecing farmers,' 'flock off with your price cuts' and 'Irish sheep matter'.
At the moment livestock prices, as of May 28, were €5.70 per kg up to 20.5kg for spring lamb, ewes €2.65 and hoggets €4.40 up to 23 kg, being priced as ewes if over 25 kg.
ICSA officials met with senior management at Irish Country Meats, and said that a 'very robust discussion' took place with management following the protest.
'Sheep farmers are on their knees. These price cuts have to be reversed for the sector to have any chance of surviving. Most of us will not be able to stay going. We might as well be giving it away for free, as we're losing money hand over fist and it's just not sustainable,' said ICSA's Sean McNamara.
'The anger is palpable amongst the farmers protesting as livelihoods are under threat, sheep farmers are being driven out of business unfairly,' he said.
The ICSA intends to keep up the pressure to have price cuts reversed, and Sean McNamara has called on meat processors to stop giving preference to lambs from the north of Ireland and elsewhere at the expense of Irish lambs.
ICSA received an assurance from the Irish Country Meats that full electronic reading will be in place from Tuesday morning (today) to ensure accurate printouts of lambs killed for farmers.
Every effort was made to obtain a comment from Irish Country Meats before the time of publication.
New Ross Standard