New sheep scheme set to be worth €10/ewe

The new Programme for Government has set out plans to introduce a new support payment for sheep farmers.

It says that consultation with farm bodies on the development of a new scheme will commence immediately upon the formation of a new Government, with the intention of submitting an amendment to the RDP as soon as possible so a new sheep scheme with a budget of €25m can be provided for in Budget 2017.

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has welcomed news and said ICSA has long been calling for a specific scheme to be introduced for the sector that would deliver real benefits for sheep farmers.

“Our focus has been on ensuring that whatever measures are introduced, they do not interfere with supply in relation to demand.”

Increasing sheep numbers counter productive

ICSA is opposed to any policy that focuses on increasing sheep numbers, believing any incentive for farmers to increase numbers would be counter productive and result only in a decrease in price.

ICSA has been lobbying for premium of €10-€12 which would strike a balance between income support and keeping supplies in check.

It is for this reason that ICSA has resisted calls for an EU wide coupled ewe premium as it would cause a surge in numbers and distort the fine balance between supply and demand.

Farmers can expect about €10/ewe payment

Brooks said what is being proposed in the new Programme for Government is a targeted scheme within the rural development programme in Ireland.

“It does not form part of any EU wide scheme which is to be welcomed.

“Irish sheep farmers can expect a payment amounting to about €10 per ewe which is unlikely to disrupt the balance between supply and demand. This can only be seen as good news for farmers in the sector struggling with low levels of return on a continual basis.”