By James Garner
LAMB exports are under way again, giving the market a welcome lift.
Shipments left Scottish plants destined for northern France last week.
Other parts of the UK resumed trade earlier this week.
Oriel Jones and Son, Llanybyther, now part of Dungannon Meat, confirmed that it had despatched its first load to northern France.
It planned to ship a total of 3000 carcasses in its first week of trading, with lighter lambs going to Italy and Spain.
“Farmers are benefiting from good demand across Europe where lamb is in short supply, but the situation will change as more plants start shipping,” said Oriel Jones.
In the meantime, export quality lambs are worth a premium. Mr Jones was paying 40p/kg more this week.
And although prices in at-risk areas are worth 20-25p below this, the mere sniff of exports had already forced average lamb prices higher, said Meat and Livestock Commission sheep economist Jane Connor.
Last weeks standard quality quotation was up again with R3L grade lambs worth 197p/kg deadweight.
But there are concerns that this bullish trend will be unsustainable if French market prices fall, warned Mrs Connor.
And a decision by the French food standard agency to remove spinal chord from all lambs over the age of six months from 1 January could also have serious implications for exporters.