According to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) farmers are losing on average £29 per lamb they sell.
Figures from the NFU have revealed that, last year, farmgate prices had dropped by more than a fifth. Lamb prices being at their lowest in three years was not a big help to farmers and extreme weather in 2012 also had an impact on the cost of production through heightened feed costs.
Farmers have also had Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) to contend with, which the NFU has said may affect lambing season this year.
The NFU is therefore calling on retailers to demonstrate genuine commitment to British suppliers after a 22% fall in farmgate lamb prices, despite an increase in the price of lamb on supermarket shelves.
Livestock board chairman for the NFU Charles Sercombe said: “Farmers are working hard to stay on top of a really tough situation, but we are now faced with really challenging conditions on the world market while seeing a considerable reduction in the price that our own retailers pay. This isn’t helped by more imported cheaper lamb products on supermarket shelves. What puzzles me is that prices to consumers have remained high. Demand from consumers has also remained strong, so what’s happening; where is the money going?
“I want to see a thriving British lamb sector – crucial if we are to attract young people to work in our industry – so retailers have to start working more closely with their British lamb supply base to help meet some of the challenges being faced. And we need our customers – the consumer – to reap some of the benefit too.”
Sercombe also pointed out that the reform package on CAP was more reason than ever to stress the importance of supermarkets giving their British farmer suppliers a fair deal.
“As CAP reform discussions continue we cannot ignore the fact that many sheep farmers are currently struggling to make ends meet in this new market-driven environment,” Sercombe added. “Direct payments to farmers are currently a vital lifeline – the only way we can ride-out the volatility of world markets. If this goes, many sheep farmers and their families face a very uncertain future indeed.”