The NFU has stated that it will do everything it can to help sheep farmers in the United Kingdom who are being hit from all sides by a collapse in the farmgate price of lamb. These price drops combined with the soaring costs of farming, are making sheep farmers very vulnerable.
The gulf between farmgate prices and the prices on supermarket shelves are causing plenty of tension among the NFU livestock members. Even though the farmgate prices have dropped by nearly a quarter, the wholesale prices for UK legs of lamb are down 17 per cent. In the same time period the prices for UK product in shops have only fallen by two per cent.
The issue, however, is not confined to UK lamb, the NFU has also reported that figures have shown that wholesale prices of New Zealand lamb have dropped by 23 per cent (year on year), and yet the retail price for consumers has only fallen by 12 per cent in the same period.
With latest figures for November showing the highest level of imports since 2006, the NFU will this week be meeting with officials from Beef and Lamb New Zealand, which is the largest sheepmeat importing country to the UK, to discuss global market conditions and understand the issues for New Zealand farmers.
The farmgate prices for UK lamb was highlighted as not viable by the NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe. He stated that the prices were not acceptable in a period where sheep farmers have seen their costs rising. He is also concerned that the price of UK product on the shelves hasn’t fallen by anywhere near the same amount as the farm gate price.
“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,” said Mr Sercombe.
“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 benefitting, so just who is reaping the rewards of the ‘Great Lamb Robbery’?”