The planned new scheme for the sheep sector still hasn’t been submitted to the European Commission for approval.

The Department of Agriculture hopes to open the scheme to applications in 2017 and a payment to farmers of in the region of €10/ewe is anticipated.

The Department said this week that the second amendment to Ireland’s RDP which includes proposals for a Sheep Scheme, is currently under discussion with the European Commission.

It said the amendment will then be formally submitted to the European Commission for approval . It also said that the European Commission will need to engage in an inter-service consultation before approval is granted.

Speaking in the Dail recently, Minister Creed said the Department of Agriculture is aiming to develop a scheme that will include a menu of options that will reflect the different management practices associated with either lowland or hill sheep farming.

The Programme for Government has made a clear commitment to providing €25m for a new sheep support scheme under the RDP.

It is understood an across-the-board payment in the region of €10/ewe will be made to all those involved, with the Department insisting that the menu of options available will take account of the different management structures in place on individual farms.

The sheep sector is the third largest farming sector in Ireland with over 34,000 producers and exports worth €230m in 2015. It makes a vital contribution to our rural economy.

EID tagging for all sheep has been mooted as a possible task in the new scheme.

IFA President Joe Healy has said sheep farmers are strongly opposed to compulsory EID for lambs and said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must insist that EID is not part of the new €10 per ewe sheep scheme, as well as ensuring that the existing derogation is maintained for sheep farmers.

Joe Healy said proposals from factories and others for the compulsory EID of lambs going direct to slaughter is an unnecessary cost imposed directly and only on farmers while returning no benefits to them. He said this has been received very negatively at farm level.

However, on the other side of the argument and calling for the full nationwide introduction of EID for sheep, ICOS National Marts Chairman, Michael Spellman said, establishing EID for the entire national flock would create opportunities for Ireland to differentiate the quality and traceability of our sheep meat products on international markets.

ICOS National Marts Committee wants the full introduction of EID to be made for all sheep movements. This would mean all sheep being EID tagged on leaving their holdings of origin, with at least one EID tag.