IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman said any sheep farmer who has not already sent back their sheep census forms to the Department of Agriculture should do so immediately in order to be sure of getting paid under the 2012 Sheep Grassland scheme.
James Murphy said IFA has been on to the Department of Agriculture regarding flexibility on the January 9<sup>th</sup> closing date and the clear message is to get your form back immediately. He said a completed census form is absolutely essential to get the Grassland payment and also necessary to avoid any cross compliance penalties under the Single Farm Payment.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said the form is very easy to complete but critically important in terms of income. He said farmers should pay particular attention to completing the form correctly as inaccuracies or errors have resulted in unnecessary losses to farmers in previous years.
James Murphy said that the Department of Agriculture has confirmed to IFA that the Sheep Grassland payment worth €18m will be paid out on January 18<sup>th</sup>. He said it is essential that there are no further delays by the Department of Agriculture in paying out the money, which is due since early December 2011.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said 2011 was a relatively good year in terms of lamb pries with an increase in the order of 10% on 2010 levels. James Murphy said for the sheep sector to continue the recovery at farm level it is absolutely essential that lamb prices are maintained at 2011 levels. He said it is very clear future growth in the sheep sector will be very dependent on strong lamb prices going forward.
The IFA sheep man said market prospects for 2012 look positive with the EU forecasting continuing tight supplies, declining production and strong prices.