Speaking at the IFA AGM in Dublin this week, IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey told the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that direct payments are crucial for sheep farmers’ incomes and IFA is demanding priority access to GLAS; increased STAP or Knowledge Transfer payments; reversal of Disadvantaged Areas’ cuts; and, increased TAMS supports for the sheep sector. John Lynskey called on Minister Coveney to support and drive these measures for sheep farmers.
In response to the IFA Sheep Chairman, Minister Coveney gave a commitment that sheep farmers will get priority access into the new GLAS scheme. In addition, he said that €3m funding for STAP is in place for 2015 and the Sheep Grassland Scheme has been incorporated into the SFP entitlements of flock owners going forward.
John Lynskey said under the new Rural Development Plan separate knowledge transfer programmes must be available for both sheep and cattle enterprises including in a mixed farming set up as currently is the case with STAP and BTAP.
Also at the IFA AGM, John Lynskey said for Commonage farmers, plans must be implemented in a flexible way to maximise participation, in line with the IFA Commonage strategy. He said GLAS+ must be available for hill-sheep and commonage farmers. He said the IFA proposals to extend the burning dates in the hills must be taken on board.
John Lynskey said IFA has set up a working group with the factories, Teagasc, Bord Bia and Sheep Ireland to tackle market issues and improve the returns from hill sheep production.