Kepak has reportedly suspended processing of lamb due to difficulties surrounding the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has been called upon by the ICSA’s sheep chairman John Brooks to intervene in light of the news.
“The ICSA has spent the last number of weeks highlighting that this policy cannot work in its current format; today’s shutdown by Kepak unfortunately proves this point.
“At this point nothing short of an intervention from Minister Michael Creed will suffice. This is an absolute disaster for our important sheep export sector.
We can’t blame Kepak; because, it is clear that what has been going on in recent days is total gridlock which no business could sustain. This move by Kepak must be taken seriously and the CLP will have to be have to be modified without delay.
Last week, it was claimed that hundreds of lambs were being turned away from processing plants as a result of – what were deemed to be – dirty fleeces.
Brooks continued: “You’re talking about big numbers; I have had calls where farmers brought down prepped lambs – ones which had their bellies sheared, as well as their necks and rears clipped – and were turned away.
“These lambs then had to go to a farm and be fully sheared; there has to be a welfare issue there, especially with the temperatures we’re having at the moment. It can’t be good to have lambs in that state.”
Kepak’s reported decision to halt the processing of lamb for the time being represents the “ultimate statement” that the CLP is not working, according to the ICSA’s sheep chairman.
He added that other processors may now be under pressure to take similar action.
Kepak has done its best to follow the guidelines and advise farmers; but, the policy won’t work in its current form.
“It’s unbelievable how this has snowballed into such a huge issue,” Brooks concluded.
Information evenings are set to be held by Kepak in Athleague, Co. Roscommon, tonight and tomorrow night at 6:30pm in order to discuss the policy.