New sheep scheme won’t open to applications until 2017

A planned new sheep scheme promised by the new Government won’t open to applications until next year the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has confirmed.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to provide €25m for a new scheme in support of the sheep sector.

Responding to questioning from Fianna Fail Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue, the Minister confirmed that the Department is currently consulting with farm organisations and stakeholders on the shape of the new Scheme.

He said once discussions are concluded, the scheme will be included in the upcoming amendment to the Rural Development Programme, which is due in late June.

“It would be my hope that, subject to agreement by the European Commission and the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, the scheme will be opened to applications in 2017,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, speculation continues to mount over the shape of the new scheme.

Minister Creed in an interview with Agriland recently said that the Department will have to get something back from sheep farmers to ensure the scheme gets approval at EU level.

“It’s not money for Jam and I know the sheep industry out there know that.

“I don’t want to be prescriptive about what we will have to get. It will have to cut the mustard at European level. I think the industry realistically knows that too,” he said.

Also Read: What will sheep farmers have to do to get their new €10/ewe payment?

However, the Minister did confirm that the new scheme will represent a considerable increase on old Grassland Sheep scheme.

The Grassland Sheep Scheme ran from 2010 until final payments in 2015. Over the course of the scheme, almost €62m net was paid to sheep farmers with an average payment of €15m per year.