UK: Sheep sector is at ‘rock bottom’

Spring Lambs

Spring Lambs

LIVESTOCK representatives from the UK farming unions said confidence in the sheep sector is at “rock bottom”.

A summit was called in London on Tuesday to discuss the on-going challenges facing the sheep industry following a challenging year for producers. Farms have been hit by poor weather, a longer finishing period, rising costs, disease challenges and a marked drop in lamb prices over the past year.

“Confidence in the sheep sector is at rock bottom. Factors such as the weather, rising costs and disease are contributing to make the ‘perfect storm’ and farmers are being left to produce lamb at less than the cost of production,” the unions said in a joint statement afterwards.

The summit heard from French, Spanish and Irish farming unions who outlined many of the same concerns.

“All four UK unions have committed to pull together to address the challenge farmers in countries across the EU are facing from cheap New Zealand imports and pressure on farm margins. We believe there is scope to review Specified Risk Material (SRM) controls which devalue older lambs and we would also urge the UK processing sector to take more of a lead to improve transparency for producers in the deadweight lamb market.

“Despite the troubling times, we believe there are grounds for optimism in the long term. We know our lamb is in demand both at home and abroad but the industry must regain its confidence to invest in the future if we are to exploit these opportunities.”