Senior management in Kepak Athleague have been contacted by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) over lamb pricing, according to IFA national sheep chair Sean Dennehy.
He said that the organisation has sought a meeting over the imposition of unfair and unnecessary cuts on the grading of lambs and price penalties following the recent factory blockades.
An audit of the grading in Kepak by the Department of Agriculture has been requested by the IFA after farmers reported that there has been an increase in the volume of fat class 5 lambs.
'Over the top'
Dennehy said that the IFA has made it clear to Kepak that the new cuts of 50c/kg on fat class 5 lambs and heavier lambs is “unacceptable” and “over the top”.
“Many lamb suppliers were loyal to Kepak during the recent beef blockades and held their lambs until the factory re-opened.
"It’s totally unfair that these loyal suppliers are now facing severe penalties on heavier lambs, just because they held them for Kepak,” he said.
A combination of weight restrictions, factory price cuts and EID charges has seen a fall in lamb prices of €11/head from last year, according to Dennehy.
A specified risk material charge of €1.27 and a 71c/head scrapie charge is applied to ewes.
The IFA is demanding that carcase weights be immediately moved up to 22kg at this time of year and some plants are already paying farmers up to this level.
“The prices cuts over recent weeks have seen lamb prices drop significantly below the critical €5.00/kg mark and has left sheep farmers seriously struggling financially.”