Over 20,000 Sheep Welfare Scheme applicants paid in full

A total of 20,271 applicants have been paid in full under the Sheep Welfare Scheme, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed.

Towards the end of April, it was announced that the 15% balancing payments for ‘Year 1’ of the scheme would commence.

As of June 14, balancing payments amounting to €2.5 million had been paid to eligible applicants, the department spokesperson added.

The roll-out of balancing payments was expected to bring the total paid under the scheme to almost €19 million.

A number of applicants are still subject to ongoing processing due to “outstanding queries” in relation to the completion of actions or the submission of sheep census forms, among other issues, the spokesperson explained.

The Sheep Welfare Scheme is co-funded by the European Union as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020.

Under the scheme, farmers who are accepted are provided with a payment of €10/ewe – as long as they have complied with the terms and conditions.

EID tagging

Meanwhile, the mandatory extension of electronic identification (EID) tagging to all sheep is set to be discussed by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine this week.

Farm organisations have criticised the decision – which was announced by the department at the beginning of May.

The committee will be focusing on the concerns raised by farmers, including the additional time and labour implications the new system will involve, the chair of the Agriculture Committee – Fine Gael TD Pat Deering – explained.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, deputy Deering said: “Sheep farmers have also voiced their dissatisfaction at a lack of meaningful consultation on EID up to now and many farmers are not satisfied that EID will mean further market access and an increase in the value of sheep farmers’ produce.

“The committee meeting will be a valuable opportunity to discuss electronic tagging and how we can ensure that it results in tangible benefits for Irish farmers, including greater access to new international markets.”