Weather conditions and poor grass growth is heavily affecting the store lamb trade. Hill lambs have been the worst affected with prices dropping by €15 to €25 per head on last year's levels.
The majority of lambs are selling from €1.10/kg to €1.40/kg or from €10 to €15 over the weight.
The strong trade in 2011 was influenced by exceptionally strong grass growth and higher cattle prices attracting store lamb buyers into the market. This source of competition is now absent with tight grass supplies on farm and the price of light weanling bull and heifers running significantly behind last year's levels.
Lowland lambs have not experienced the same price reduction, with prices reduced by €10 to €15 per head on the previous year. This translates to between €70 and €77 for a 35kg to 40kg lamb. The trade for store lambs is not being helped by factory prices falling by 20c/kg to 30c/kg or €4 to €6 per head in the last three weeks. This, combined with rising concentrate prices, has also lowered confidence among store lamb finishers.
IFA national sheep committee chairman James Murphy said that urgent action is needed to arrest the decline in the light lamb and store lamb market.
He said that factories must stop talking down lamb prices and undermining confidence among finishers. He said that there was no justification for the lower prices with prices in France and Britain remaining well above Irish levels, with offal values also remaining strong.
James Murphy is calling on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to guarantee that all farmers will receive 100% of their Disadvantaged Area payments next week commenting that this would provide a tremendous boost to the trade.
He added that Bord Bia, in conjunction with the Minister, must undertake a strong light lamb market initiative in the Mediterranean countries.
He said the live export trade also needs a boost and excessive bureaucracy and regulation was restricting the trade.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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