Farming situation "unsustainable" in NI

According to meat bosses in Northern Ireland, the beef sector lost £125m last year, while sheep producers saw a loss of £25m.

Speaking at the launch of the Livestock and Meat Commission's (LMC) 2005/2006 Annual Report, chairman Owen Brennan described the situation as "unsustainable".

Speaking at the launch at Lisburn today, he said: "Having reviewed the published information in regard to our sector, LMC has concluded that at farm gate level, if we assume that farmer's drawings from their business equated to the basic agricultural wage, the Northern Ireland beef sector lost £125 million and the sheep sector lost a further £25 million during the year.

"This historic information is further supported again within the last couple of weeks when the Greenmount benchmarking exercise demonstrated that the top 25% of suckled beef producers had costs of 189p/kg of beef produced, while in 2005 the average market price was 180p/kg, and let me say the Greenmount statistics do not include any drawings by the farm owner.

"These circumstances are clearly unsustainable. Within LMC we are seeking to do all that we can to facilitate a process whereby industry and government face up to the realities of current circumstances in the industry."

He added that LMC would continue to strive to serve the industry in Northern Ireland. "LMC, like the producers, the processors and indeed government, cannot and should not be allowed to rest on its laurels. We must continually examine how we can better serve the industry that funds our existence."

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