The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association are insisting that the full €25 million allocated under the Sheep Welfare Scheme is paid out to sheep farmers as promised. INHFA Livestock Chair Brendan Joyce outlined that there may be as much as €5 million of an under-spend per year arising out of less farmers applying for the scheme. This he stated “was something we had anticipated as far back October which is why we made a proposal to the Minister seeking a €5 top-up on the hill ewe. This proposal was rejected at the time on budgetary concerns”.
The top-up added Mr Joyce “can be easily justified by the fact that since the loss of the light lamb trade, year on year Teagasc has shown the Hill flock to be one of the poorest performing sectors financially speaking in Irish agriculture. The previous Sheep Grassland Scheme acknowledged this and had a top-up for the hill ewe built into it”.
The INHFA are now calling on Minister Creed to use the unspent money inside the scheme and increase the payment on the hill ewe to €15. “It is vital that this money is spent within the sector and ensures it reaches farmers that face real challenges in the current market place” concluded Mr Joyce.