Members of the Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association have led two days of price-related protests outside Kepak outside Kepak Athleague, Co Roscommon.
The ICSA members say the factory has taken excessive price cuts, offering a €4.80/kg base price versus the €5.30 per kg being offered by other meat plants. The protest started on Sunday and protestors kept vigil outside the plant through Sunday night.
ICSA sheep chairman, Sean McNamara, said: “Athleague is leading the push to drive down prices, but we are standing firm for a better price. Some factories are paying up to €5.30 including bonus. Farmers are angry at the way in which lambs are being imported from Northern Ireland to undermine the price for local lambs.”
The factory group Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said that “continued weaker demand for lamb in key continental markets due to lower consumption levels, coupled with very competitively priced UK lamb in the marketplace is behind the deterioration of lamb prices here in recent weeks. Processors understand the frustration of farmers with these price falls, but it is reflective of what is happening in the market. While market returns are disappointing at present, disruption of processing operations will not help the situation.”
IFA sheep chairman Sean Dennehy accused factories of shredding the lamb price in the last two weeks, destroying farmers’ incomes and lining their own pockets.
He said that this same week last year, lamb prices were €5.80/kg. This week, factories have cut prices to €5.00 to €5.10 per kg, which is 70c to 80c/kg or €14 to €17 per lamb down on last year’s price.