IFA President Eddie Downey and National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey will today launch a new IFA campaign for increased targeted direct support for the sheep sector at the Teagasc Sheep 2015 open day in Athenry Co Galway. Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and the Government need to be more ambitious about the potential of Ireland’s sheep sector.
Eddie Downey said with strong support and viable lamb prices, the sheep sector can deliver for farmers and rural Ireland, especially in mountain and hill areas where other types of farming are not an option. He said a number of EU countries have applied payments per ewe as part of their CAP 2015/2020 plans. The sheep sector is the third largest farming sector in Ireland with over 33,000 producers and an output value in excess of €280m pa.
The IFA President pointed out that for each €1 of output produced on sheep farms, due to the multiplier effect, an additional €1.33 of output is generated in the Irish economy and each €1 of support for sheep underpins €2.70 of aggregate output in the Irish economy, (Prof Alan Renwick, UCD, 2013).
Eddie Downey said direct support of €20 per ewe must be the Government’s objective, financed from a combination of EU and national funds. He said the new Rural Development Programme for 2015-2020 has funding of €580m per annum available and new schemes are being rolled out through GLAS, Knowledge Transfer and TAMS II. He said IFA will be insisting that sheep farmers get the best deal possible from these schemes.
IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said IFA has put forward a solid policy proposal based on strong direct support equivalent to €20 per ewe, targeted at active producers. IFA is also demanding priority access to GLAS, increased Knowledge Transfer payments, restoration of ANC payments and a strong TAMS II. John Lynskey said Minister Coveney must reverse the recent decision to exclude sheep fencing from TAMS II.
John Lynskey said the sheep sector is deserving of strong support through a combination of CAP and national funds. The 2014 sheep census, showing a 38,000 decline in ewe numbers, and the 2014 Teagasc Farm Income Survey which shows an average sheep farm income of €14,500 per annum, point to a real need for strong action from Minister Coveney.
Summary of the IFA Proposals for the sheep sector:
- Direct support equivalent to €20 per ewe targeted at active producers;
- Priority access to GLAS payments of $5,000 pa;
- Increased Knowledge Transfer payments for 10,000 flock owner;
- Reversal of the cuts to ANC payments (Disadvantage Area Payments);
- Strong TAMS II funding for sheep investments;
- Government action to secure market access to new markets (China and USA);
- Independent research and strong advisory service from Teagasc;
- Increased promotions from Bord Bia and price premium for Quality Assurance Lamb; and,
- Strong sheep breeding programme from Sheep Ireland.
The sheep sector is very important in terms of the number of farmers involved, strong export earnings (€250m), the very positive social and environmental contributions it makes in rural areas and particularly in remote areas and on the hills, where it is not possible to conduct any other type of farming enterprise. Total sheep meat production amounts to 55,000t per annum, and Ireland is the third largest exporter in the EU with exports of 45,000t. Our main markets are France, UK, Belgium, Germany, and Scandinavia.
The IFA Sheep Chairman John Lynskey complimented Teagasc for organising Sheep 2015 and said such events are of real interest and benefit to sheep farmers, and are very important for the future development of the sector.