Sheep farmers in crisis – IFA protest calls on processors and the Minister to act

IFA President leads the recent IFA Sheep Protest on price cuts in Roscommon town last week.

IFA held a protest in Roscommon town last week, highlighting the deepening income crisis on sheep farms.

The protest was organised following the latest price cut, which has hit sheep farmers already grappling with severe input costs and slashed margins.

Addressing the assembled farmers, IFA President Tim Cullinan called for immediate action from the processors and the Government.

“IFA made a clear case to Minister McConalogue that support of €30/ewe was needed for the sector. Instead, the Minister went with €12/ewe, which is way too low given the impact of inflation on the sector,” he said.

“The Minister must act now. Promising to convene meetings won’t cut it. This is the third time our members have taken action and sounded the alarm bell in as many weeks. Let this Government and the processors be under no illusion; it won’t be the last if support is not forthcoming,” he said. 

IFA Sheep Chairman Kevin Comiskey said the processors’ greed was so great that they were effectively destroying their own supply chain.

“The margins on sheep farms have been trimmed to the bone, falling by 81% to just €7/ewe, including the Sheep Welfare Scheme payment. Factories cannot expect producers to keep going on this margin,” he said.

“Teagasc and Bord Bia have said they expect similar input costs and market conditions for this year, leaving sheep farmers facing the prospect of €7/ewe return for the year, at best.”

Tim Cullinan said, “There is no hiding place for the Minister for Agriculture or his Government colleagues. Our members are sick of the nice rhetoric with nothing to back it up. We need action now. Without it, Ireland’s second-largest farm sector carried out on 36,000 farms in some of the most difficult land types in the country will be put at risk”.