UFU calls for local food chain to support sheep farmers

Wednesday, 29 June, 2022

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says with lamb farmgate prices reducing in recent weeks, while the cost of production continues to climb, farmers’ confidence in the local sheep market needs to be restored urgently. This is vital to ensure they’re supported and can continue to produce the high-quality products consumers expect.  

UFU beef and lamb chair Pat McKay said, “Our sheep producers are starting to lose confidence in the sheep market, and we need processors, retailers, food service outlets and consumers to support local sheep production. Sheep farmers and are doing everything they can to keep their businesses financially viable, however like many farmers in other sectors, they’re feeling the pinch due to the knock-on cost of production such as fertiliser, feed and fuel prices. 

“Despite lamb prices being up £1/kg from the same period last year, the cost of production has increased greatly, putting a nail through any margin. Spring lamb numbers have been slower to come forward this year as farmers battle to decide what is best for their business because of inflationary costs and the ongoing Ukraine war which continues to impact the global food chain significantly. 

“Producers have been expecting to see lamb prices strengthen with the Eid Festival due to start in July, yet processors have been pulling quotes this week offering farmers £6/kg. The Republic of Ireland factories are quoting £6.60/kg, with regular producers seeing quotes of £6.80/kg on offer. Meanwhile, the Great Britain price is £6.60-6.75/kg, leaving our local farmers at a serious disadvantage to their counterparts across the water. 

“Going forward, we encourage farmers to look around for the best offer to maximise their return as live ring trade has been strong this week. It’s also vital that farmers market lambs to the correct specification to increase what is already very slim margins.”