Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Ceisteanna (522)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

522. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason lamb prices are lagging behind those of international competitors (details supplied); the steps he will take to address the anomaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52855/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As the Deputy will be aware, as Minister, I have no role in determining the prices for sheep meat or any other commodity, nor can I directly intervene in the determination of prices.

Different markets are not always comparable for a variety of reasons including economies of scale and domestic demand. The table below shows the average annual price for heavy lambs for Ireland, Spain and the UK for the last five years as reported by the EU Commission.

 €/100kg

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

IE

459.21

470.13

460.99

459.32

486.32

ES

547.50

500.21

502.64

539.82

537.08

UK

518.82

521.68

492.01

472.76

518.70

This data, which is available from 2004 to 2018, shows that the price differential between Ireland and that of Spain and the UK is a long-standing trend.

While I have no role in determining price, my Department does provide a range of supports to the sheep sector. I introduced the Sheep Welfare Scheme in December 2016 in order to provide support for sheep farmers in improving welfare standards in the national sheep flock. In addition to supports which are available for sheep farmers under the Rural Development Programme, including GLAS, ANCs and Knowledge Transfer Groups, sheep farmers also benefit from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening payments under CAP Pillar I.  I have also made available financial support to sheep farmers for compliance with new sheep EID rules.

Market access and market development is a key priority for my Department, and I was delighted to reach agreement with the Japanese authorities on sheepmeat access to Japan during my trade mission to that country in June.  An audit of sheepmeat plants was carried out by Chinese authorities in August 2019, and I hope to further progress access to that market in 2020.

I believe that the current range of supports available to sheep farmers, together with ensuring market access to as many markets as possible, are appropriate supports for the continued development of the sector.