The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has called on the Minister for Agriculture to take swift and decisive action to save the sheep sector from further decline. Speaking on this National Vice President Micheal McDonnell stressed the need for Minister McConalogue to implement a meaningful ewe top-up package to provide the necessary financial lifeline to our farmers.
It is, he stated, “imperative that we safeguard the livelihoods of those dedicated farmers who contribute significantly to Ireland’s agricultural Output and the sustainability of our rural communities.”
With the week-on-week fall in price the sector is, he added “in a dire position, a scenario that we anticipated last Spring when we earnestly called upon the Minister for Agriculture to implement a meaningful payment per ewe for the sheep sector. Unfortunately, the situation will also be compounded by the delayed payment of Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme which will impact cash flow and have a knock-on effect on the sale of store lambs and breeding ewe sales particularly for hill sheep.”
The pressure weighing down on the store lamb price has continued McDonnell “been further exacerbated by the fact that many traditional tillage farmers, who were crucial in the lamb store market, are no longer engaged in the practice. This shift in behaviour is primarily attributed to the new Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) rules for tillage farmers, which have discouraged them from planting crops for sheep.”
This change in practice is, maintained the INHFA leader “having a profound and alarming effect on the sheep sector and we are calling on the Minister to review and apply amendments to have this situation reversed.”
“This ongoing fall in the market price comes on the heels of the sheep sector grappling with increased costs, including those associated with shearing, while simultaneously facing the predicament of no market for wool” said McDonnell. In addition to this the past year has he maintained “witnessed rising expenses related to feed, fertiliser, and veterinary products all of which have added to the precarious state the sector now finds itself in.”
In concluding the INHFA Vice President demanded action stating how “the sheep sector is at a critical juncture, and without immediate intervention, its future is uncertain and this is why we are calling on the Government to act immediately and ensure the survival of this vital industry”.