A key priority for sheep farmers in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to secure €30/ewe, according to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).

Following a meeting, earlier this week, of the IFA Sheep Committee, the importance of this measure was “reaffirmed” in order to underpin the viability of sheep farmers the IFA said.

IFA Sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy, said the scheme must have a funding allocation of approximately €78m to deliver €30/ewe to all participants.

“The current proposal lacks ambition to provide the opportunity for participants to generate €30/ewe and must be amended through increased/updated costings and additional practical and beneficial measures,” he said.

The sheep chairman said the reference period must reflect the actual levels of activity on farms.

New entrants to the sector must be allowed time to establish their flocks while participating in the scheme and have this recognised in the reference numbers.

The IFA Sheep Committee has also included a proposal to include shearing as an action in the scheme.

“Shearing has become a very expensive practice for sheep farmers due to the collapse in the wool market. This is a critical animal health and welfare measure, which is ideally placed for inclusion in the sheep scheme,” he said.

Inclusion of this measure in the sheep scheme will deliver on a number of key objectives in the CAP, according to the IFA.

The farming body said this will support farmers in a vulnerable sector and ensure best practice is followed in parasite control and the overall health and welfare of the flock. It will also ensure that wool, which is a natural product with many environmentally-sustainable uses, is presented from farms in optimum condition for further use.

The IFA Sheep chairman said that the Sheep Committee is unanimous that compulsion to be part of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme as an eligibility requirement of the scheme must be removed.

“Quality assurance is a market requirement, which should be rewarded from the marketplace. It is not appropriate as a requirement for eligibility in the proposed scheme,” he said.

The Committee also said the new agri-environmental scheme must deliver €10,000 to sheep farmers.