• Text size
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Sheep need a boost

CONFIDENCE IN the sheep sector is at rock bottom – and the processing sector could be doing a lot more to help, especially on the deadweight lamb front.

WINTER RATIONS these sheep at Holms of Caaf farm, Dalry, were not backward about coming forward when the feed bag got rattled during the recent snowfall
WINTER RATIONS these sheep at Holms of Caaf farm, Dalry, were not backward about coming forward when the feed bag got rattled during the recent snowfall

That was the message from the UK farming unions following this week's meeting in London to discuss the tribulations of the sheep industry, following a year which has seen farms hit by poor weather, a longer finishing period, rising costs, disease challenges and a marked drop in lamb prices.

Loading article content

The summit also heard from French, Spanish and Irish farming unions who outlined many of the same concerns. The Scottish representatives at the summit were new NFU Scotland livestock committee chairman Alastair Martin and policy manager John Sleigh.

A joint statement issued after the summit stated: "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.

"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 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."

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on The Scottish Farmer on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.