Workshops set to target EU sheep sector

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

The EU sheep sector needs visibility
The EU sheep sector needs visibility

Related tags Sheep meat Meat European union Agriculture Eu Lamb Livestock

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has announced the decision to establish workshops on the future of the EU sheep meat sector. 

The workshops will be used to reflect on the future development of the sheep sector in the EU in the context of stagnant consumption.

Chaired by John Bryan, a producer representative and former president of the Irish Farmers' Association, they will involve key economic players from the public and private sectors, including representatives from the production, processing and trade parts of the sheep meat industry as well as representatives from member states that have a significant sheep meat industry.

Work is scheduled to begin later this month ahead of the first meeting in mid-November, which will seek to identify the main perspectives and challenges of the EU sheep sector in terms of production, competitiveness and marketing. It will also focus on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of sheep production.

Future of sector

Two further workshops next year are expected to be based around specific themes and will involve presentations by independent experts, which will help to guide the discussions and considerations of the group. The forum has been asked to draft a final report in mid-2016, with recommendations relating to the future of the EU sheep sector. 

The EU sheep flock is roughly 85 million head, and annual production is approximately 710,000 tonnes carcase weight.

The European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV) welcomed the announcement and said it agreed there was a crucial need for a strategy aimed at securing robust EU sufficiency in sheep meat output over a 10-year period.


This is an important and realistic target that all stakeholders should work towards​,” the union said. “As far back as 2009, a European Parliament report on the sheep meat sector highlighted the fragile nature of sheep meat production in the EU. Not only economic issues, such as production, consumption and trade, are at stake, but also rural development across the EU.​”

The EU meat industry and trade representation of this group will be led by Joe Hyland, who is chairman of the UECBV Sheep Meat Committee.

All facts and data are a warning that the EU sheep meat sector is declining and, without action, there will be a further exodus from the EU's sensitive rural areas, in terms of farmers and also jobs, as the sheep meat industry depends on the welfare of the sheep farmers​,” said Hyland.

The announcement of the workshops and recommendations is promising as the EU sheep sector needs visibility. Furthermore, sheep meat will be a case study that might be extrapolated and extended to other agricultural sectors that are facing deep market disturbances if it delivers constructive outcomes.​”

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