Deadline looming for Sheep Welfare Scheme forms

Farmers have been reminded that the deadline is looming for Sheep Welfare Scheme forms to be returned.

The closing date for the receipt of both ‘Year 2’ continuance forms as well as applications from new entrants to sheep farming has been set as Friday, February 2, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

New entrants should contact the sheep welfare section of the department to request the application form.

For the purposes of the scheme, a new entrant is defined as an applicant who has applied for a new herd number from January 1, 2017, and prior to December 31, 2017.

An applicant with an existing herd number who has not held or traded in sheep for a two-year period up to October 31 preceding the scheme year is also considered as a new applicant.

In any subsequent scheme years, the new applicant must apply for a new herd number prior to December 31 of the preceding year, the department explained.

Full details of the terms and conditions of the scheme are available online.

Farmers have also been reminded of their obligation to return their sheep census forms.

Over 20,000 applications

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.

Commenting previously on the scheme, Minister for Agriculture Michael 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.

“The details of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, including the amount of payment to participants, 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.