IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the Irish sheep sector is a very important farming enterprise with 35,000 farmers and an output of €390m.
As well as providing top quality lamb meat, sheep farmers also take excellent care of our hill and mountainous areas, providing essential ecosystem services through good agricultural and environmental management.
With the major Christian festival of Easter and the Muslim festival of Ramadan approaching, Sean Dennehy said there is very strong demand for lamb.
“These festivals are important dates in the sheep farming calendar. This year Easter is on April 21st and Ramadan begins on May 6th.”
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader pointed out that for the next five years to 2024, Easter and Ramadan will be only two weeks apart. “This aligning of the calendar should drive strong demand for lamb at an early stage in the year, just as the first of the new season lamb appears on the market”.
He said hoggets are making €5.80/kg with some top prices of €5.90 paid and some feeders holding out for €6.00/kg. He said demand is very strong and supplies quite tight.
The IFA Sheep farmers leader said farmers should select their stock carefully and be careful not to sell under finished lambs. He said with Ramadan coming in early May, demand should remain strong.
The first of the new season spring lambs are out this week. Sean Dennehy said numbers will be very tight and prices are in the region of €6.60 to €6.80/kg to 21kgs. He said butchers and wholesalers are active. Ewes are making €2.80 to €3.00/kg, up to 45kgs.
Sean Dennehy was very critical of some factories, who he said were trying to talk down prices and attempting to control the trade at this critical time of year. “This is totally unacceptable and viewed very negatively by sheep farmers.”
The IFA sheep farmers leader pointed out that last year prices for hoggets were €6.20/kg and spring lambs were making €7.20.
He said sheep farmers are expecting supplies will tighten further over the coming weeks. The kill to date this year is back 97,461 head, pointing to very tight supplies.
UK lamb prices trading at £4.38/kg sterling for w/e Apr 3rd, which is the equivalent to €5.36/kg incl vat.
Sean Dennehy said the IFA is demanding an increase of the QA bonus to 30c/kg. Some plants have moved to 15c and 20c/kg with additional market specifications.
IFA Raises Payment Concerns with Dept at Charter of Rights Meeting
Speaking at a Charter of Rights meeting with the Department of Agriculture this week, the IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said it’s absolutely essential that the maximum number of applicants in tranche 19 of TAMS are approved as soon as possible to provide certainty to farmers who are planning to carry out work.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins welcomed confirmation that payment of the ANC balancing payment will commence next week.
He stressed the importance of paying the remaining farmers as soon as they meet their stocking density requirements, which the Dept confirmed happens on a weekly basis. Farmers will be paid as soon as they meet the required stocking density, which in some cases will run to the end of the year.
Michael Biggins also called on the Dept to pay the ANC to farmers who omitted in error to tick the ANC box on their BPS application this year. “A system where a farmer has to ‘opt out’ rather the ‘opt in’ would ensure there are fewer errors when submitting applications,” he said.
IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe welcomed the payment of the BPS balancing payment which commenced this week. “The Dept also confirmed the issue around transfer of entitlement, which held up payments of around 1,000 farmers, has been resolved for most at this stage and the remaining ones will be resolved in the next week,” he said.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden has welcomed DAFM facilitation of farmers who made ‘Draft applications’ to BEEP-S scheme and who had operated under the impression they were participating in the scheme by carrying out measures on their farms. IFA had raised this issue directly with the Department of Agriculture and the acceptance of these farmers into the scheme is the right decision.
Regarding the Beef Finishers Payment, Brendan Golden again called for cattle exported for slaughter in the reference period to be paid on from the surplus in the Beef Finishers Payment fund.
IFA Launches Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements
IFA National Farm Business Chair Rose Mary McDonagh and Martin Stapleton, Chairman of the IFA Debt Support Service, have launched a Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIA).
IFA Debt Support Service was established following the last recession to provide specific support to farmers in arrears.
The confidential service is comprised of an experienced team of IFA volunteers working with professional support to provide assistance to IFA members in financial difficulty.
Martin Stapleton said IFA has worked with over 500 farmers over the last few years. While the numbers in difficulty are reducing, recent weeks have seen an increase in activity from vulture funds since the COVID-19 Payment Breaks came to an end.
“This guide is available on IFA’s website and will serve as a useful resource for farmers in arrears seeking to protect their family home and farm land,” he said.
A Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is a debt resolution mechanism outlined in the Personal Insolvency Act, which acts as an insolvency solution for people with unsecured and secured debt.
Rose Mary McDonagh added that a PIA can provide a debtor with protection from their creditors and on completion, a debtor will return to solvency.
At present, the Oireachtas is considering one of two Bills which will reform the area of personal insolvency and amend the current eligibility requirements for a PIA. Rose Mary McDonagh said the definition of relevant debt should be expanded to include debt prior to 2015, and debt secured in or over a debtor’s income reliant/core asset.
The IFA Debt Support Service can be contacted, in confidence, at 1890 924 853.
EU Must Complete an Impact Assessment of Green Strategies
Speaking after a meeting of European Farm Leaders (COPA) with EU Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans yesterday, IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the EU must complete a full impact assessment of the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.
“I told the Commissioner a full impact assessment is needed to determine how much implementing these strategies will cost,” he said.
“Frans Timmermans has threatened to withdraw the Commission’s own CAP proposal if it doesn’t take more account of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. Yet he has no idea how much these strategies will cost or who will pay for them,” he said.
“People are quoting all these targets without any consideration for their impact on output or on production costs of farmers. Farmers cannot be left to carry the can on this,” he said.
“We also need Teagasc to do an assessment of the impact in Ireland. We are currently deep in discussions on the Agrifood 2030 strategy, but again we have a data vacuum,” he said.
“It’s incredible that the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture has examined the impact of ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy on farm incomes, output and trade and neither the EU nor Ireland has,” he said.
“The US report predicts that as a result of the strategy, farm incomes would be reduced by 16%. This is as a consequence of the expected loss of production by 12% across the EU which would not be offset by the 17% increase in market prices.”
“If these measures were implemented, the report predicts a loss in output at an EU level which would cause exports to fall by 20% and imports would increase by 2%. The knock-on effect of these changes in trade is predicted to increase the cost of food by €132 per person in the EU.”
“If these figures are correct, they would be devastating for European farmers. Yet the EU Commission doesn’t know, or won’t tell us, what their assessment of the impact will be,” he said.