THE Irish Farmers’ Association held a protest in Roscommon Town last week to highlight the deepening income crisis for sheep farmers.
The protest was organised following the latest price cut which has hit sheep farmers already grappling with severe input costs and slashed margins.
IFA Sheep Chairman for Donegal and National vice Chair Adrian Gallagher travelled to Roscommon to represent the sheep farmers in Donegal.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Adrian said the aim of the protest was to send a strong message to the Government that sheep farmers need additional support.
“The bottom line is that sheep farmers are losing money. Teagasc has come out with the evidence to say that sheep farmer’s incomes have dropped by 81 per cent in 2022.
“Any lamb that is being killed at the moment is dying in debt. We are taking a hit of €10 to €25 a lamb,” he said.
Last year, sheep farmers exported €475 million in sheep meat exports, significantly contributing to the economy.
However, since the beginning of 2023, sheep farmers have taken a significant loss in the price of lamb they are producing and then selling on to the factories.
Adrian said another reason they travelled to Roscommon was because they are campaigning very hard to try and get a €30 ewe supplement.
“There was a scheme called ‘the sheep welfare scheme’ but that has since lapsed. That was to the value of €10 a ewe. Since February 1 2023 a new scheme has come in and the Government has valued that at an additional €2. At the minute we are now getting €12 a ewe,” he said.
On average it costs €100 to €150 to keep a ewe viable for one year.
With input prices doubled if not tripled in terms of fertiliser, feed and energy, Adrian said it has been a number of years since they looked for a €30 supplement.
“We are still looking for €30 a ewe and if you take inflation into consideration we should be looking for a lot more,” he said.
With Donegal primarily having small family sheep farms, many farmers are struggling. Growing up on a sheep farm in Donegal, Adrian said his parents managed to rear a family of eleven children.
“I am struggling to rear a family of four. I am working as well as farming and so is my wife,” he said.
Following the protest, Adrian said if the sheep farmers don’t get commitment from the Government, further action will be taken.
“This time our plan was to protest in Roscommon. If we don’t get action and if we don’t get some commitment from the Government then we will be taking further action, be it in Dáil Éireann or in Charlie McConalogue’s constituency here in Donegal,” he said.
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