A survey of 500 farmers at Sheep 2018 in Athenry last weekend sends a strong message to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed that farmers are not prepared to carry the €2m additional costs of EID.
The IFA conducted a survey of almost 500 sheep farmers, requesting their views on the key questions of lamb losses this spring, EID tagging and the associated costs, tag quality, price rewards for lamb quality and sheep supports.
The survey found that 62% of farmers believe the Department of Agriculture should pay for the additional €2m costs of EID sheep tagging, while a further 31% of farmers consider that the factories and marts should pay the additional costs.
In addition, 62% of farmers surveyed do not believe that there will be any benefit to them from EID.
IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said IFA has made it very clear to Minister Creed that sheep farmers are not prepared to carry the cost of EID. He said the decision of the Minister to impose EID from October 1st 2018 will cost sheep farmers €2m per year, and we cannot afford additional costs on this very low income sector.
IFA has met with Minister Creed and put detailed proposals to the Department of Agriculture for a €1 per tag subvention on the costs of EID. The IFA has also proposed that it should not be necessary to extend EID to sheep that go from the farm of origin directly to slaughter as it adds nothing to traceability.
Increased 2018 Losses
It has been a very difficult year for sheep farmers with higher feed costs, increased lamb losses and now a drought situation.
The survey found 44% of sheep farmers encountered an increased level of lamb losses during the severe weather this spring. Of these, 24% said they had losses greater than 10% and over 7% had losses above 20%.
Sean Dennehy said this proves the point that losses last spring were very high and will leave lamb supplies tighter this year.
Quality of Tags
One-third of farmers have encountered a problem with the quality of sheep tags from their supplier. Of these, 14% said they have a problem on quality with 10% or more of the tags supplied.
Price Reward for Quality Lamb
Sheep farmers want a lamb price that rewards quality. Almost half (46%) of the farmers surveyed said they would prefer a lamb price which rewards quality, while 32% said they would like an additional payment to reward Bord Bia quality assured lambs. Only 23% of farmers said they would prefer a flat price for lambs.
Sheep Welfare Scheme
The popularity of the Sheep Welfare Scheme came through in the survey results with 41% of sheep farmers saying they prefer the welfare scheme as the most appropriate type of sheep support payment.
A coupled payment was the preferred option for 38% of respondents, while 20% of farmers preferred a scheme based on environmental measures.
Sean Dennehy said that having secured €25m in funding for the €10 per ewe Sheep Welfare Scheme in 2017, IFA is pushing for an additional €5 per ewe environmental payment under the RDP. He said with average incomes of €16,897 in 2017, sheep need additional support.