Lamb Price Stability Needed

Thursday, 6 July, 2017

Ulster Farmers Union, beef and lamb chairman, Crosby Cleland says processors must act responsibly and restore stability to the sheep market.  His comments follow sharp price reductions for local lambs over the past few weeks.

“The recent strength in the market brought some welcome confidence back into the sheep sector.  Prices have been stable, giving farmers more flexibility with marketing lambs at the specified weight range,” says Mr Cleland, but he adds that this has been reversed by processors seeking to pull back prices as lamb numbers coming onto the market increase.  “This isn’t unexpected, given that prices traditionally drop back from June into July.  But farmers will now be concerned about what lies ahead for the rest of the year, given their sense of disappointment about this reversal in fortunes.”

In recent years, from July onwards prices have not moved by much more than 20 pence a kilo right through to the autumn. “Assuming sterling does not strengthen against the euro there is no reason why processors cannot deliver at least what is currently being paid over the course of the next few months,” says the UFU beef and lamb chairman, adding that a lot of farmers are now making decisions about when to sell. “If processors act responsibility and deliver strong, stable prices they will get the consistent supply of in-spec lambs they need. But if they opt to cut prices further, this will destabilise the market and that’s not in anyone's interest,” he says.