The 15% balancing payments to all eligible farmers under year four of the Sheep Welfare Scheme are to commence issuing this week.

The scheme is co-funded by the European Union as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme, 2014-2020.

The rollout of the balancing payments brings the total paid under year four of the Sheep Welfare Scheme to €16.6 million to some 18,300 farmers.

This, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, provides a “significant financial boost to the individual farmers, the sheep sector in general and the wider rural economy”.

According to the department, the Sheep Welfare Scheme provides financial support to farmers for taking extra steps to improve the welfare of their flock. Farmers get €10 per breeding ewe for completing flock welfare measures.

Announcing the commencement of the payments, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said:

“The Sheep Welfare Scheme is a key component in meeting my department’s goal of promoting and safe guarding animal health and welfare for the benefit of consumers, producers, the economy and wider society, as set out in the department’s Statement of Strategy 2021-2024 and Action Plan 2021. It also underlines my absolute commitment to the sector.”

The minister urged farmers with outstanding queries to respond to the department immediately in order to facilitate payment. Payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as eligibility is confirmed for farmers with outstanding queries.

The department’s Statement of Strategy (2021 – 2024) and Action Plan 2021 can be viewed on the department’s website.