The livestock board chair at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Richard Finlay, has said he is concerned as Great Britain’s sheep sector continues to see falling lamb prices.

“In recent days we’ve seen the old season lamb (OSL) deadweight price fall to 495p/kg, and the liveweight price fall to 234p/kg,” he said.

“Many will remember that, this time last year, the deadweight price stood at 577p/kg and the liveweight price at 269p/kg. That is 20% higher than the current farmgate price.”

Finlay said that huge increases in farm inputs of feed, fuel and fertiliser have seen his sheep rolls go up from £280/t to £400/t in 2023.

“I know this will present significant challenges to many sheep producers that are also having to contend with the phased reduction in BPS (Basic Payment Scheme) support,” he said.

“I’m not alone in wondering if the offer provided by the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme will deliver that much needed support.

“For ELMs to succeed it needs to be simple, provide certainty and fairly reward farmers for taking part and crucially work for all types of livestock production whether upland or lowland.”

Lobbying asks

Finlay said the NFU, and the wider sheep sector, would continue to:

  • Challenge retailers and businesses in the out-of-home market to be clear on their British sourcing commitments;
  • Supoport industry initiatives and campaigns, such as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) ‘We Eat Balanced’ campaign;
  • Ask the government to consider applying safeguards to the trade deals currently being scrutinised in Westminster;
  • Call for more government action to support the work of AHDB, including match-funding levy payer contributions towards export initiatives;
  • Focus on growing export opportunities, securing market access and maintaining the UK’s position in established markets like the EU.
  • Continue to develop the domestic and international market for Halal lamb.