Calls for reopening of Sheep Welfare Scheme for Longford farmers

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

ICSA’s sheep chairman John Brooks has called for the reopening of the Sheep Welfare Scheme to facilitate those who did not participate in the scheme in 2017.

“There has been a significant underspend in the first year and on that basis I would urge the Department to show flexibility on the issue and facilitate those wishing to join for 2018 and beyond,” he added.


“This is the first sheep scheme of its kind and there was pressure on all sides to get the scheme together quickly.”


He went on to say that credit must be given to the Department in respect of the fact that the Scheme was up and running in 2017 and subsequent payments were made on time.


“However,” Mr Brooks continued, “it was never made clear that failure to apply for the scheme in 2017 would mean that farmers would be locked out for 2018; many farmers and planners were completely unaware of this.”


He concluded; “ICSA believes there should be no reason that farmers who, for a variety of reasons, did not apply in 2017 should be denied the opportunity to participate in the scheme in 2018 under the same criteria”.


Meanwhile, IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman, John Lynskey said the Department had confirmed to the organisation that the Sheep Welfare Scheme application for the €10 per ewe payment for 2018 would be sent out to farmers early in the New Year with a closing date of February 2, 2018.


He pointed out that the application form was very straightforward and farmers in the Scheme would only be required to confirm that they wished to continue to participate in year two.


IFA lobbied hard to secure €25m funding for the Sheep Welfare Scheme, which delivered €10 per ewe payment to sheep farmers,” he added.


“To date this year 20,986 sheep farmers have been paid €16m under the scheme, through an 85% payment advance - the remaining 15% payment will be made in early 2018.”


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