Farmer con­cern at Hack­et­stown clo­sure

Irish Independent - Farming - - News - Louise Ho­gan and De­clan O’Brien

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.

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