The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is again being urged to roll-over the Sheep Welfare Scheme into next year.

At the moment, the scheme is due to conclude in December 2020.

Sean Dennehy, the sheep chairperson for the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said that the scheme has been “positive and effective”.

With 34,000 flock owners, sheep farming is the second-largest sector in terms of farm numbers.

“The Sheep Welfare Scheme has been positive and effective. Sheep are significant contributors to environmental preservation, particularly in hill and mountainous areas. The scheme is due to conclude in December 2020,” Dennehy highlighted.

The IFA says that it met with department officials on Friday of last week (September 18) to discuss the scheme and the possibility of it being rolled over.

“We were clear about what farmers need; a targeted payment of €30 per ewe through a combination of CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] transition [funding] and national funding,” Dennehy said.

During that meeting, the IFA also raised other issues impacting the sheep sector, including Brexit; the collapse of wool price; and the potential of establishing a potential working group for the sector.

Covid-19 payment

In other IFA-related news, the association’s farm business chairperson Rose Mary McDonagh is reminding farmers that the application period for the Covid-19 payment break closes next Wednesday, September 30.

“Payment breaks provide crucial breathing space for those negatively impacted by Covid-19.

“If your cash-flow has dropped temporarily as a result of Covid-19, or you expect it will, and you believe you will be unable to make your loan repayments, then you should seek a payment break,” McDonagh urged.