IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey has strongly encouraged all sheep farmers to apply for the new €10 per ewe sheep scheme, recently announced by the Minister of Agriculture Michael Creed.
John Lynskey said sheep farmers should attend the meetings arranged for later this month by the Department of Agriculture, familiarise themselves with the details of the scheme and make an application by the closing date of January 31.
John Lynskey said the new €10 per ewe scheme is a very positive development for the Irish sheep sector.
He said IFA undertook an intensive campaign throughout 2015/2016 and succeeded in securing a commitment in the Programme for Government and funding in Budget 2017 of €25m per year for the new scheme.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said the new scheme is based under the animal welfare section of the Rural Development Programme and farmers will be required to undertake various tasks which will improve and enhance the standards of animal welfare and health of their sheep flock.
He said the welfare initiatives include task on lameness, mineral supplementation, parasite controls, flystrike and scanning.
Mr Lynskey pointed out that farmers will choose from a list of options and be required to select two options, one from Category A and one from Category B. He said the options are tailored to suit both lowland and hill sheep flocks. He said farmers will have to undertake the tasks at various times throughout the year and keep a record of the work. Participants will be subject to the normal inspection process.
John Lynskey said with 2.5m ewes in the national flock, there is adequate funding in the scheme to cover every sheep farmer with a breeding flock. In addition, he said IFA has also outlined the need to accommodate young farmers and new entrants under the application arrangements.
The IFA National Sheep Chairman said the Irish sheep sector involves 35,000 farmers, 2.5m ewes, and annual output of 61,000t, valued at €290m.
He said analysis conducted by Professor Alan Renwick from UCD shows that each €1 of direct support for the sheep sector underpins €2.7 of economic output and €1.72 of household income in the Irish economy.