Farmer concern at Hacketstown closure
FARMERS have expressed concern at the closure of Kepak’s sheep slaughtering facility in Hacketstown, Co Carlow.
Both the IFA and ICSA said the move would take badly-needed competition out of the sheep business and would be viewed as a retrograde step by farmers.
The IFA said the closure could impact upon prices paid for lambs at the factory gate.
“Sheep farmers are ver y disappointed with the decision to close the Hacketstown plant, with the resulting l oss in slaughtering capacity and competition,” an IFA spokesman said.
ICSA said Kepak’s decision was “unfortunate” and would impact prices paid for sheep.
“From the point of view of sheep producers, the reduction in competition for lambs is a worrying prospect. We need as many viable meat processors operating as possible,” said Paul Brady, ICSA’s sheep chairman.
Operations at the Co Carlow facility are to cease on March 6. The closure of the plant will cost 50 j obs di r ec t l y but industry sources said a further 50 people could be impacted from drivers to suppliers of the plant.
Kepak Group stated the plant had been opening two or three days per week for the last few years but the business lacked “sufficient scale” for this to be sustainable in the long term.
“The group regrets that this is the outcome not only for the staff and their families directly employed there but for the entire community of suppliers and associated service providers who have loyally supported the business over the past 27 years,” said a Kepak Group spokesman.
Farmers will be offered the option of sending lambs to Kepak Athleague, Co Roscommon.
The firm said it had invested heavily in the Athleague plant in recent years and it would continue to process lamb for both the Irish and export markets.
Concerns had been raised over the future of the plant, which supplies lamb products mainly to the French market.
It confirmed that staff ”willing to relocate” would be offered work at its other operations.