IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy met with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed this week and highlighted the “over the top” implementation of the Clean Sheep policy at factory level.
Sean Dennehy said, “We made it very clear to the Minister that some Department officials have adopted an overzealous approach to the Clean Sheep Policy. This has dragged the policy into disrepute and has led to growing disruption of normal selling and processing activity.
“We asked the Minister to get the Department to pull back and adopt a more practical and sensible approach on the issue.”
Sean Dennehy added that the situation has improved somewhat since the meeting with the Minister.
Sean Dennehy also led an IFA Sheep Committee delegation in what he described as a robust meeting on the Clean Sheep Policy with senior vets in the Department of Agriculture in Backweston earlier in the week.
IFA made it very clear to the Department that the current overzealous implementation of the Clean Sheep Policy by the Department of Agriculture is totally unacceptable and must change immediately.
Sean Dennehy said the changes the Department has made, without consultation, to the implementation of the Clean Sheep Policy over the last two weeks have led to major problems for both factories and farmers.
He said this unacceptable approach by the Department is damaging the smooth implementation of the policy and creating major anger and frustration at farm level.
The IFA sheep farmer leader said the Department must adopt a more practical and realistic approach, taking account of the difficult weather and ground conditions of recent weeks.
The Department agreed to review the unworkable aspects of the current policy and to revert to the IFA by the end of this week.
Sean Dennehy said IFA made it clear that sending sheep home and full shearing are not part of any policy and are totally unacceptable. The Department agreed to review sending sheep home and also made it clear full shearing was not necessary.
The IFA sheep farmer leader said sheep farmers would continue to endeavour to present sheep as clean as possible.
Sean Dennehy said the imposition of charges on farmers by the factories for clipping is also unacceptable. He said farmers have been caught in the firing line and these measures are imposing both costs and labour on the sector.