‘There has been no word’: Clarity sought on Sheep Welfare Scheme

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has been called on by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) to deliver clarity on the future of the Sheep Welfare Scheme.

Urging the minister to shed light on the matter, ICSA sheep chairman Seán McNamara said:

“Preparations are already underway for next year’s lambing season and there has been no word on if the scheme will be rolled over into next year.

Sheep farmers are none the wiser as to whether or not to include tasks relevant to the scheme in those preparations, and this needs to be addressed immediately.

“With margins so tight and with no Brexit or Covid-19 related aid forthcoming for the sector, sheep farmers are finding it tougher than ever.

“Now we have been left to operate in a complete vacuum of information on the Sheep Welfare Scheme,” the chairman said.

As a means of supporting sheep farmers, the ICSA has sought a substantial top-up payment on the scheme for this year, McNamara said.

We believe this must now be given careful consideration. Any unused monies in the department’s various budgets must go towards helping sheep farmers at this time. We have been at the back of the queue for too long.

McNamara 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).

“The scheme has worked well so the foundation is there to build on that and offer sheep farmers a greater financial dividend for undertaking additional tasks.

“In the interim however, we need the scheme to roll over into 2021 and for all avenues of providing additional financial support to sheep farmers to be explored,” the chairman concluded.