IFA National Sheep Chair Kevin Comiskey has said the terms and conditions issued by the Department of Agriculture for the advance payment of the Fodder Support scheme is another example of sheep farmers being left behind by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.
Kevin Comiskey said the scheme is only available to farmers who qualified for payments in 2022 and is based on saving hay and silage.
The IFA National Sheep Chair said a large cohort of sheep farmers operating in hill areas were unable to claim the scheme this year and have now also being ruled out of the €30m scheme.
He said IFA highlighted concerns for the store lamb trade to the Minister and his official’s earlier this year and this has now come to pass with a very difficult store trade for lighter hill lambs in particular, which are the same cohort of farmers ruled out of this scheme.
Kevin Comiskey said the lack of support for sheep farmers from the Minister has reached a critical stage and the failure of the Minister and his officials to address the shortcomings in the original Fodder Support Scheme has angered sheep farmers.
The IFA National Sheep Chair said the Minister must come forward with meaningful targeted supports for sheep farmers in recognition of the current difficulties on farms and the market failure to return production cost increases.
Factory prices are now up to €12/lamb behind last year despite the increased production costs on farms. This is not sustainable in a low-income vulnerable sector and must be offset by direct supports.
He said the Minister must as a matter of urgency commit funding to a targeted scheme for sheep farmers that will bring direct supports for the sector up to €30/ewe.
Kevin Comiskey said it is ironic sheep farming is one of the most environmentally sustainable farming systems in the country yet it is the one government have failed to support throughout this crisis and in the new CAP for next year.