Macra demands that young farmers are accommodated in €25m sheep scheme

Macra na Feirme has requested clarification from the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed and the Department of Agriculture about how young farmers will be accommodated in the new €25m Animal Welfare Sheep Scheme.

The number of ewes eligible for payment under the new scheme is based on a historic reference period, using the average ewe numbers possessed in 2014 and 2015 as the basis for payment.

Speaking this week Macra na Feirme National President Sean Finan said that Macra is demanding flexibility that new entrants to sheep farming, who may not have had sheep during the reference period, are accommodated and have access to the scheme.

Macra says that access to this scheme is of critical importance to young farmers as the sheep sector is one the most accessible industries from a young farmer’s point of view due to the lower cost of establishment compared to other enterprises.

“It would be very short-sighted if Minister Creed did not accommodate new entrant young sheep farmers in what is a positive scheme for the sheep industry,” he said.

Earlier this year, the IFA also outlined the need to accommodate young farmers and new entrants under the application arrangements of the scheme.

IFA Sheep Chairman, John Lynskey said that the scheme needs to provide flexibility on numbers and on the options farmers can select to best suit their enterprise in order to draw down all the funding.

Under the scheme, sheep farmers will have nine different options in total and it is proposed they will be divided into two categories, with farmers required to choose an option from each category.

Approval of the sheep scheme by the European Commission is expected by year-end, which would clear the way for early applications in 2017.