At an IFA briefing session with politicians in Dublin yesterday, IFA National Sheep Committee John Lynskey said IFA is seeking a targeted payment of €20 per ewe in increased direct supports in order to maintain and support the national sheep flock. He said this is a key priority in the IFA submission to political parties and Dáil candidates for the 2016 General Election.
John Lynskey said sheep farmers are also very concerned over competition and dominance in lamb processing with the ABP investment in Irish Country Meats (ICM). He added ICM currently has up to 40% of the lamb kill with their two plants in Camolin, Co Wexford and Navan, Co Meath. This investment would also give ABP effective control of up to 28% of the beef kill and three of the six rendering plants in the country.
While the investment will be subject to clearance by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CPCC), the IFA is insisting that the Government makes a submission to the CCPC through the Minister for Agriculture on the importance of guaranteeing competition in processing and rendering for farmers. John Lynskey said IFA has been in contact with the CCPC and will be making a submission on the matter.
John Lynskey said at a meeting with IFA last year on sheep, Minister Coveney accepted the need for increased supports and committed to meeting IFA again early in 2016 to progress the case.
He said following strong lobbying at Budget time by the IFA, the Minister agreed to reinstate grant aid for sheep fencing in TAMS II and has given a clear commitment that this will be part of the RDP to be sent to Brussels and implemented early in 2016.
John Lynskey said the IFA has 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 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”.
John Lynskey said 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.