In response to a proposal from newly elected IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said he was favourably disposed to looking at how to better reward sheep farmers for the environmental benefits the sector delivers in the context of CAP 2020.
The Minister was speaking at the IFA AGM in Dublin this week.
Sean Dennehy said IFA is proposing increased targeted direct payments for sheep and an additional environmental payment in both hill and lowland areas.
Minister Creed said he is favourably disposed to engaging with the IFA on the issue of rewarding sheep farmers for the environmental benefits they deliver. He said the €20m sheep welfare scheme is a positive success.
Addressing the IFA AGM, the IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy set out his main priorities for the sheep sector over the next number of years. He said the key issues are improving sheep farm incomes, ensuring strong viable lamb prices and increased direct supports for the country’s 34,000 sheep farmers. He pointed out that sheep sector is extremely important in every county across the country.
On lamb prices, Sean Dennehy said IFA will campaign strongly to maximise strong viable lamb prices to producers in 2018, working with the meat factories, retailers, marts, producer groups and live exporters as well as the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia to fully exploit all market outlets and returns to Irish sheep sector.
He said farmers deserve a much greater share of the final retail price, “Working with the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and exporters, IFA will encouraged and assist the live trade to drive competition in the trade particularly in the lead up to the Muslim festivals of Ramadan on May 15th and Eid commencing on Aug 21st 2018.”
Sean Dennehy said working with Bord Bia, IFA will insist on strong lamb promotions on the domestic and export markets and push to develop new markets as well as securing market access. In addition, he said through the implementation of a new protocol negotiated with Bord Bia on farm audits, IFA will insist quality assurance is more farmer friendly.
Sean Dennehy said the IFA and the former National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey worked very hard and delivered real benefits to sheep farmers through the new €10 per ewe Sheep Welfare Scheme. He said IFA will ensure that the scheme continues to operate smoothly for farmers with payments delivered as per the deadlines set down in the Charter of Farmers Rights. To date, 20,986 farmers have been paid €15.9m, which represents an 80% advance payment.
On the new CAP 2020 proposals Sean Dennehy said IFA will lobby for increased targeted support for the sheep sector favouring active farmers and an additional environmental payment to reflect the positive deliverables from sheep to the management of the rural environment, in line with the recommendations of the EU Sheep Forum.
Sean Dennehy said IFA is fully committed to defending the important hill sheep sector. He said the IFA has already delivered €10 per ewe for 9,500 hill sheep farmers who applied under the scheme. He said IFA will continue to work on seeking new and improved market outlets for hill lamb and will work closely with the IFA Hill Committee on all issues that impact on hill farmers.
On Brexit. IFA will insist that the sheep sector does not lose out in the Brexit negotiations in terms of market access or the allocation of TRQ’s. He said how the New Zealand lamb quota for 228,000t of access to the EU market is handled in Brexit is critical to the sheep sector.
Clean Sheep Policy
Sean Dennehy said the factories and the Department of Agriculture must adopt a more sensible and practical approach on the Clean Sheep Policy. He said farmers will do their best to have sheep as clean as possible but in the current weather conditions, realism will have to operate.
He said IFA will push the EU, Department of Agriculture and processors to change the scrapie rules and reduce charges on ewe slaughterings.
On EID and Sheep tagging, Sean Dennehy said IFA will continue to support the current Department of Agriculture sheep identification system, insisting that there are no additional costs on producers from EID. On market access to new markets like the USA and Japan, he said TSE or scrapie is the real issue, not EID.
On marauding dogs attacking sheep flocks, Sean Dennehy said IFA will continue to highlight dog attacks on sheep flocks and work to ensure responsible dog ownership and increased participation in micro-chipping.
Sean Dennehy said, “In the IFA Budget 2019 campaign we will campaign to maximise scheme supports to sheep farmers and to ensure that payments are delivered on time to farmers under BPS, ANC, Sheep Welfare Scheme, TAMS, KT, and GLAS.”