The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association is calling for the potential €5m under-spend in the Sheep Welfare Scheme to be targeted at the hill sheep sector. National President Colm O Donnell outlined how any top-up could be paid to farmers with hill sheep by taking on an extra welfare measure, as they are already costed at approximately €5 each. This option stated Mr O’Donnell “would still require an amendment to the Rural Development Program, but would be easier achieved than increasing the budget and making major alterations to the Scheme.”
The top-up added Mr O’Donnell “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 lowest 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 O’Donnell.