Should sheep farmers get a ‘BEEP’ of their own?

Calls have been made for sheep farmers to get a “bolt-on” action similar to the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) to enhance the quality of Ireland’s flocks by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

The farmers’ organisation welcomed the announcement earlier today that advance payment of €15.1 million is to be made to 18,600 sheep farmers under year two of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, adding that now is the time to make the scheme better.

Commenting on the commencement of the payments, ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks said:

“The advance payment rate has been set at 85% again this year which is good news.

However, given the current underspend in the Rural Development Programme, the ICSA believes the time is now right to explore enhancing the Sheep Welfare Scheme.

Brooks pointed to the more than €300 million in unspent funds under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II scheme for better distribution.

“The ICSA would like to see the sheep sector get a fair share of that underspend and while the scheme is delivering in its current format there is scope to increase payment levels.

“This would see sheep farmers rewarded for undertaking additional tasks.”

Brooks highlighted that the precedent has been set for this under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) with the addition of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme.

“A similar bolt-on action or menu of actions under the Sheep Welfare Scheme would work just as well and deliver more benefits to the sheep sector as a whole.”