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Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Irish sheep sector supports

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which Irish lamb continues to be a major competitor on world markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Irish sheep farm families produce a world-class product that is in demand across many global markets, and I am very conscious of the important role that the sheep sector plays in the continued growth and development of our agri-food sector. 

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) sheepmeat exports worth approximately €385 million, or 57,737 tonnes were exported in 2021, an increase of 8.3% in value on 2020.  

For 2022 TYD (August) the value of sheep meat exports increased by 18% on the same period last year, with a 9% increase in volume in that period. The overall market outlook for Irish and EU lamb prices for 2022/2023 remains reasonable, although Irish lamb prices are forecast to experience some decline from the record high levels received in 2021. 

Nonetheless, for the week commencing 10th October, the year-to-date average price for sheep meat was 691.44c/kg which is a 5% increase on the same period in the previous year.  

Securing market access and diversifying trade remains a key aim for my Department. Developing market opportunities at home and abroad is one of the goals of Food Vision 2030.

However, I am acutely aware of the pressures being faced by many sectors across the agriculture industry due to the increase in input costs. Since the invasion of Ukraine, I have taken a proactive approach to dealing with the massive challenges arising for the agri-food and fisheries sector. 

Farming is not alone in dealing with these challenges, but our sector is particularly exposed as a result of the invasion. I have announced several measures since this crisis started, to support our farm families and their businesses and I will continue to support the sector.

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