‘Sheep farmers have been continuously excluded’ from compensation – ICSA

The sheep chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) Sean McNamara has said the Department of Agriculture must step up and provide compensation to sheep farmers impacted by Covid-19 following the announcement that sheep farmers in Northern Ireland are eligible for aid.

News that our counterparts in the north are in line for payments of €7.60/head on some lambs and ewes is in contrast to the situation down here where sheep farmers have got nothing.

“My fellow sheep farmers and I have watched while beef farmers have been compensated for the market disruption brought about by the pandemic.

“Before that we watched as beef farmers received Brexit related aid in the form of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure [BEAM] scheme.

“Now we have to watch as sheep farmers in the north receive compensation, which includes compensation for lambs exported to the Republic. It’s time for our own sheep farmers to be brought into the equation.”

McNamara said he was calling for a substantial top-up payment on the Sheep Welfare Scheme as a support for the pressures on sheep farmers caused by Covid-19 disruption and Brexit set backs.

Sheep farmers have been continuously excluded and this is very unfair.

He also reiterated his call for a more substantial long-term package which would include a €30/head sheep payment in the next round of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and a strategy to deal with the “disastrous” wool price.

“We need a Sheep Taskforce to tackle these issues and to ensure that sheep farmers have some hope of a long-term future in the business,” he concluded.