Find out the most popular measures under the Sheep Welfare Scheme

Applications to the Sheep Welfare Scheme are currently being accepted, with the deadline for submissions set to close tomorrow (February 9).

An extension to the closing date for the receipt of continuation forms and new entrant application forms for ‘Year 2’ of the scheme was announced late last week by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

When the online facility for the scheme first opened, the department confirmed to AgriLand that it did receive reports of an issue with the system where some applicants were receiving “an error message“.

A spokesperson added that this issue was “quickly resolved”. No further reports of error messages were received by the department.

It was confirmed that over 2,700 farmers had lodged their ‘Year 2’ forms online by the close of business on Thursday, February 1 – the day before the original deadline.

The first year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme saw a total of 20,734 eligible applications received. These applications included around 1.9 million breeding ewes for the €10/head payment.

Sheep farmers with breeding ewes can apply for payment based on two actions they choose from a menu to undertake, depending on their flock type.

Sheep Welfare Scheme
Hill flocks may not choose both ‘Mineral supplementation of lambs’ and ‘Meal feeding of lambs post weaning’

Most popular measures

Figures recently released by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, show that ‘Mineral Supplementation of Ewes post mating’ was the most popular measure undertaken by farmers in the scheme.

This was followed by the ‘Scanning’ option, which was carried out by 11,614 applicants.

Commenting previously on the scheme, Minister Creed said: “Advance payments in the amount of €16 million under the first year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme have already issued.

“Balancing payments in respect of these applications will issue in 2018, which will bring the total for ‘Year 1’ of the scheme to approximately €19 million.”

He explained that the details of the scheme were approved by the European Commission in 2016.

The payment rates are based on the agreed costings underlying the actions to be undertaken in the scheme, and an increase in the funding allocated to existing actions would thus require changes to the actions currently being undertaken by farmers, or the addition of new actions.

“Any such changes to the details of the scheme would require the agreement of the European Commission via the formal Rural Development Programme amendment process,” he said.

Census forms

The department has also confirmed that a significant number of census forms have been returned to-date, both by post and online via agfood.ie.

A spokesperson said: “The deadline for the return of completed forms by post was January 31, 2018, and these returns are currently being processed. There is an extended deadline of February 14 for online returns and final return rates will be available shortly after the online return deadline.”

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