IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the IFA has progressed its sheep policy proposals very positively with the leaders of the two main political parties this week.
“Following meetings with both the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and the leader of Fianna Fail, Michéal Martin at the IFA AGM this week, both parties have committed to the IFA policy to increase the Sheep Welfare Scheme from €10 to €15 per ewe,” he said.
“This is solid progress and we want to build on it to get to direct supports of €30 per ewe.”
IFA is continuing to pursue a targeted direct payment of €30 per ewe for sheep farmers from a combination of CAP and national funding. This would include a roll-over and increase in the Sheep Welfare Scheme to €15 per ewe and CAP Pillar II funding.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said sheep farming is the second largest farming enterprise in terms of farmer numbers, with 34,000 flock owners and is particularly important in mountain and hill areas. The sheep sector has an output value of up to €450m, with exports of 54,809t to 35 different countries, worth €294m in 2019.
With pressure on lamb prices and direct payments, sheep farm incomes are very low at an average of €13,397 for 2018.
Sean Dennehy said the IFA National Sheep Committee is undertaking an intensive lobby of all political candidates in every constituency before the General Election on Sat, Feb 8th. “No politician will be left in any doubt as to the supports the sheep sector needs from the next Government.”
The key proposals on sheep outlined in the IFA General Election 2020 manifesto include;
- A Targeted Direct payment of €30 per ewe for sheep farmers from a combination of CAP and National funding. This would include a roll-over and increase in the Sheep Welfare Scheme to €15 per ewe and CAP Pillar II funding.
- The option of coupled payments and Eco scheme payments in CAP Pillar I.
- In CAP Pillar II, a strong environmental payment of €10,000 per farm, an increase in ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments and higher payments for Designated and Commonage lands.
- Immediate market access to the important Chinese and US markets as well as other new lamb markets.
- On EID tagging, a rollover of the €100 funding per farmer for the cost of tagging for the next three years, increased grant aid for electronic readers and a single tag for the sale of finished lambs in the marts.
- Abolish all non-statutory levies associated with scrapie, SRM charges and clipping charges.
- The ongoing problem with dog attacks must be tackled through a properly funded dog warden service, implementation of micro-chipping of all dogs and one central Government data base.
- The sheep sector must be fully protected in Brexit in terms of free access to the UK market, the fair share-out of the existing New Zealand and other TRQ import quotas.
- The EU must fully protect the European sheep meat sector by ensuring that there is no additional market access for New Zealand and Australia, in any new trade negotiations.