THE NFU has labelled the losses hitting British sheep producers as the 'great lamb robbery'.
It said farmers are being attacked on all sides by the collapse in the price of lamb while having to cope with soaring input prices.
Farmgate prices have dropped by nearly a quarter and wholesale prices for UK legs of lamb are down by 17% but the price of UK lamb in the shops has only dipped by 2%.
The wholesale price of New Zealand lamb is also down by 23% compared to a year ago but is only 12% cheaper in the shops than it was in January 2012. Britain is currently importing the highest volume of New Zealand lamb since 2006 and NFU representatives will be meeting officials from Beef and Lamb New Zealand to discuss global market conditions.
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “Many of our sheep farmers, particularly those in the uplands, have been experiencing a major downturn in lamb prices which I fear will drive confidence out of the industry.
“I understand their frustrations at a time when they’re also dealing with rising input costs and poor weather.
“Consumers also want to see competitively priced UK product on the supermarket shelves. But the present situation is not sustainable. We have recently written to all major retailers urging them to show long-term commitment to our livestock producers to ensure we have a sustainable supply of UK lamb, for the benefit of both farmers and consumers.
“Currently farmers are suffering, and consumers aren’t benefiting, so just who is reaping the rewards of the ‘Great Lamb Robbery?’”
Meanwhile, the deadline for the 2012 British Sheep Breed Survey has been extended until February 28.
The initiative, organised by Eblex and Welsh meat promotion organisation HCC, has not been carried out since 2003.
It is hoped the results will give a better understanding of how breeds have changed and highlight the industry’s strengths and weaknesses. Eblex livestock scientist, Poppy Frater, said: “We’re very grateful to the 12,000 producers who have completed the survey so far.
However, we’re keen that as many flocks as possible are represented, so we have decided to extend the deadline to the end of February.
“Ouessant ewes and Beltex x Soay crosses have been among the surprises so far, so the results are guaranteed to make interesting reading.”
The survey can be downloaded from www.signetfbc.co.uk or, to order a hard copy, contact Signet Breeding services on 024 7647 8829.
The initial results will be unveiled in November at the Sheep Breeders Round Table event.
Currently farmers are suffering, and consumers aren’t benefiting, so just who is reaping the rewards of the ‘Great Lamb Robbery?’