€25m Sheep Welfare Scheme application forms to issue to farmers shortly

The Department of Agriculture will shortly be issuing an application form and the terms and conditions for the Sheep Welfare Scheme to all sheep farmers, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said.

The Sheep Welfare Scheme announced on Budget Day this year, which provides funding of up to €25m, was launched today by Minister Creed, at Kenmare Mart, Co. Kerry.

“I would urge all farmers to study this information carefully and to note that the deadline for applying for the scheme will be the January 31, 2017.

“To assist farmers my Department will be running a series of information meetings around the country in January where they can find out all the necessary information on the scheme.”

The scheme will be introduced in January as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme having been agreed with the European Commission.

Also Read: Key details of €25m sheep scheme revealed

Speaking at the launch of the scheme today, Minister Creed said that this scheme was a key commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government and the Department has worked extremely hard over the last six months to bring it to fruition.

“This scheme also reflects the commitment of this Government to the sheep sector in Ireland and will make an important contribution to the sustainability of this sector.

“The sector makes an important contribution to the agri-food economy generating an output value of €320m and exporting in excess of €230m in 2015.

“It supports 34,000 farm families directly in addition to providing several thousand jobs indirectly in rural areas.”

Sheep Welfare Scheme details

  • Payment is €10 per breeding ewe. The number of allowable ewes for each participant will be calculated as the average number of ewes in their 2014 and 2015 sheep census.
  • The farmer is required to maintain the reference number of ewes which will form part of the inspection process.
  • There is provision for new entrants to join where they do not have 2014/15 ewe numbers on which to base a reference number. A new entrant to this scheme is defined as an applicant who has applied for a new herd number from January 1, 2016 and before the closing date of the scheme in 2017 or 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.

The Minister said that this scheme provides support of €10 per ewe to farmers for undertaking actions which make a positive contribution to flock welfare.

“In designing the scheme I was conscious that this scheme would have take into account the different challenges faced by sheep farmers in lowland and in hill areas and I believe we have successfully struck this balance.

“The end result is a reflection of extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders, particularly farm organisations, carried out by my Department over the last few months, in addition to intensive discussions with the European Commission.”

Under the scheme farmers will be required to choose actions which can improve the overall welfare of a flock.

These actions will be chosen from a menu from which farmers must choose two actions, based on whether the farmer has a lowland flock or hill flock. These actions must be completed over a 12 month period.

In return the farmer will receive a payment of €10 per breeding ewe, depending on the average number of ewes held on their farm in the years 2014 and 2015, according to the Department.

Dates and times for the nationwide meetings:

sheep-meetings

All meetings commence at 8pm.