ICSA (Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association) President Patrick Kent has told Agriland that Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must recognise the importance of the sheep sector with the context of the final CAP reform deal for Ireland.

Speaking to Agriland at the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing Championships, he added:

“We will be meeting the Minster over the coming weeks. And the prospects are good that he will act to reflect the importance of the sheep industry to farming and the economy as a whole.

“Sheep production plays a fundamentally important role at the very heart of Irish farming. It encompasses our rural way of life both in the hills and in rural areas.

“When asked what Simon Coveney could do to halt the further decline of the sheep sector, Mr Kent replied:

“Stop the rot in sheep numbers!

“There was a time when Wexford was home to 100,000 plus sheep. This is no longer the case. It is, therefore, incumbent on the Minister to take the practical steps that are needed to revere these trends. And, in practical terms, that means providing targeted support for the sector.”

Patrick Kent then stressed the need for sheep processers to promote the quality of lamb more effectively.

“We have premium product which can attract top prices in countries such as France. But we need to build on this,” he commented.

“The factories must also address of the impact of the current sheep meat classification scheme. The bands are far too narrow and there is absolutely no requirement to penalise lambs over 21 kilos. “

Patrick Kent concluded:

“The shearing championships have provided a tremendous shop window for the Irish sheep industry.  Harvest 2020 has highlighted the tremendous potential for growth within agri food as whole. The Irish sheep industry must be part of this.”