Irish Country Meats, Kepak and Kildare Chilling allegedly imposed “unfair charges” on sheep farmers who supplied them with wet or dirty livestock, according to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and first revealed by this site.
For the second time this month, the IFA has raised concerns over the way abattoirs implement the government’s Clean Sheep Policy, which requires farmers to ensure animals are clean before they are sent to slaughter.
The association confirmed that Irish Country Meats, Kepak and Kildare Chilling had imposed charges of “varying degrees” on sheep farmers.
IFA added sheep farmers were “frustrated” by the trio’s “overzealous” implementation of the Clean Sheep Policy, with some plants reportedly imposing charges of 80c per head for clipping the fleece of sheep.
Farmers ‘threatened’ with fines
Factories also “threatened farmers”, according to the IFA, which has criticised Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine over the implementation of the Clean Sheep Policy.
“In some meat plants, sheep have been sent home, factories have imposed very unfair charges and others have threatened farmers,” said IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy.
“This over-the-top approach is damaging the Clean Sheep Policy among farmers.”
Ireland has been hit by period of “very difficult weather conditions” and while farmers are said to be doing all they can to keep sheep clean, the IFA said the three meat plants and the government cannot “expect the impossible”.
IFA said some factories had imposed charges of 30c per sheep, irrespective of whether the animals were clean or not. It stressed its opposition to abattoirs ramping up charges for clipping unclean sheep.
Dennehy said that farmers would work hard to ensure the sheep they supplied to Irish Country Meats, Kepak and Kildare Chilling were “as clean as possible”. He also warned that any big delays in the slaughter of sheep at these factories could spell “bad news” for the entire supply chain.
The Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine, Irish Country Meats, Kepak and Kildare Chilling could not be reached for comment.