A PLAN by processors for Ireland to produce an extra 1 million lambs annually has been questioned by Irish farmers.
Beef and lamb processor body Meat Industry Ireland has presented the country’s government with a plan to boost the country’s flock to 3 million ewes to produce an extra 1 million lambs annually, claiming benefits would include higher exports — about 20,000 tonnes – and profits, plus an extra 500 jobs.
But Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association sheep chairman John Brooks has questioned the benefit to the producer of the proposed ‘Five Year Development Plan for the Irish Sheepmeat Sector’ submitted to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.
“This is a great proposal for sheep factories.
“Get farmers to work harder to produce more sheep meat and the surplus output will help to drive down prices,” he said.
“What’s in this for farmers?”
Mr Brooks said there is no indication in the plan of any priority being given to securing an increase in incomes above the current average of just €16,000 per annum for sheep farmers.
“In recent weeks we have seen the meat industry pulling prices when numbers have increased even slightly.
“Experience would suggest that increased production does not equate to increased prices, in fact it is quite the opposite,” Mr Brooks said.
“The beneficiaries in the long term would be the processors alone.”
“In addition, these proposals would place an even greater cost burden onto sheep farmers, including EID tagging, and offers no evidence of any real benefit to the producer,” he said.
“ICSA believes that any development plan for the sheep meat sector should have the interests of the producer at its core and look at ways to boost income.”