The IFA is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney to secure an acceptable solution to farmer concerns on his Sheep Grassland proposals.

IFA Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said Minister Coveney has clearly accepted that there is a real problem for sheep farmers with his CAP proposal to subsume the Sheep Grassland Payment into the Single Farm Payment. In addition, the Minister has said he is committed to addressing this problem.

Lynskey said: “With the European and local elections in just over two weeks, the Minister needs to make an immediate announcement to resolve the problem for the sheep sector on behalf of the country’s 30,000 sheep farmers.”

Addressing the issue in a parliamentary question in the Dail this week the Minister said: “In developing the shape of the new system of Direct Payments in Ireland, I have been very conscious of the needs of sheep farmers, in particular those who farm on hill and commonage land.

“In general, sheep farmers hold low value entitlements under the current Single Payment Scheme and will benefit significantly from the model of convergence that is to be applied in Ireland where those with a low Initial Unit Value will see the value of their entitlements increase over the period of the scheme.”

He added: “The incorporation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme payment into the calculation of a farmer’s Initial Unit Value in 2015 will obviously result in a higher entitlement value for the farmers concerned from the start of the Scheme rather than relying solely on the gradual process of convergence to increase the unit value over the five year period up to 2019.

“Our analysis confirms that as a result of this provision the group of farmers who receive the Grassland Sheep Scheme will have an immediate financial benefit in 2015 as part of their payment under the Basic Payment Scheme.”