IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said IFA has made good progress on a number of important sheep issues and continues to push hard for increased direct support for sheep farmers.
He said Minister Coveney accepts the need for increased supports and has committed to meeting IFA again early in the New Year to progress the case.
John Lynskey said that, following strong lobbying at Budget time by the IFA, Minister Coveney agreed to reinstate grant aid for sheep fencing in TAMS II. He said the Minister has given a clear commitment that this will be part of the change to the RDP to be sent to Brussels and implemented early in the New Year.
Knowledge Transfer for joint enterprises
John Lynskey said the IFA made Knowledge Transfer payments for farmers with joint enterprises like cattle and sheep farmers a major issue. He said initially it was made clear that these farmers could only receive one payment. However, IFA highlighted how this was very unfair and unacceptable, and lobbied hard for additional payments. He said it is now being proposed to Brussels that farmers with dual enterprises will receive a full KT payment for one enterprise and a 50% KT payment for the second enterprise. This will be very important for thousands of cattle and sheep farmers who have joint enterprises.
The IFA Sheep Chairman said IFA met with Minister Coveney on sheep issues in November and the Minister accepted that sheep farming is a low income sector and needs ongoing support. He said IFA put a strong case to the Minister that to maintain and grow the sheep sector there is a need for increased targeted direct support and IFA is seeking the equivalent of €20 per ewe. “We pointed out that 22 member states across the EU have introduced coupled payments for sheep as part of CAP Reform, with an average payment of €12 per ewe.”
John Lynskey said ANC payments are particularly important for sheep farmers and an increase in payment levels to those that applied in 2008 will be a key priority for IFA to politicians in the forthcoming General Election.
The sheep sector is very important, involving 34,000 farmers with an output value of €300m and production of 58,000t of lamb. He said a study by UCD showed each €1 in support for the sheep sector underpins €2.70 of aggregate output in the economy.
John Lynskey said Minister Coveney agreed to examine all of the support mechanisms available for sheep and said he would re-visit the situation with the IFA in early 2016.