IFA presents election proposals on sheep to Creed

A delegation of sheep farmers from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) had a positive meeting with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed in Cork today, Friday, January 24, according to the organisation.

Commenting after the meeting, IFA sheep chairman Sean Dennehy said: “We presented Minister Creed with a copy of the IFA General Election proposals on sheep, including a targeted direct payment of €30/ewe.”

The IFA said it highlighted to the minister that sheep farming is the second largest farming enterprise in terms of farmer numbers, with 34,000 flock owners, adding that it is particularly important in mountain and hill areas.

The sheep sector has an output value of up to €450 million, with exports of 54,809t to 35 different countries, worth €294 million in 2019.

Continuing, Dennehy said: “With pressure on lamb prices and direct payments, sheep farm incomes are very low at an average of €13,397 for 2018.”

The main IFA proposal is for a targeted direct payment of €30/ewe for sheep farmers from a combination of CAP and national funding.

This would include a roll-over and increase in the Sheep Welfare Scheme to €15/ewe and CAP Pillar II funding.

In Pillar II, IFA is seeking a strong environmental payment of €10,000 per farm, an increase in ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments and higher payments for designated and commonage lands.

Dennehy said immediate access to the important Chinese and US markets as well as other new lamb markets are essential in terms of diversifying markets.

On EID tagging, the IFA has proposed: a roll-over of the €100 funding per farmer for the cost of tagging for the next three years; increased grant aid for electronic readers; and a single tag for the sale of finished lambs in the marts.

The chairman said all non-statutory charges associated with scrapie, specified risk material (SRM) charges and clipping charges should be abolished.

He said the ongoing problem with dog attacks must be tackled through a properly funded dog warden service, implementation of micro-chipping of all dogs and one central Government database.

“The sheep sector must be fully protected in Brexit in terms of free access to the UK market, the fair share-out of the existing New Zealand and other TRQ import quotas,” he said.

The EU must fully protect the European sheep meat sector by ensuring that there is no additional market access for New Zealand and Australia, in any new trade negotiations.