IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy has called for a positive stimulus package to boost the important sheep sector. He said confidence was damaged this year and action is now required to return the sector to growth after an extremely difficult year.
James Murphy said the excessive factory price cuts in the month of May combined with the severe weather conditions, a major increase in production costs and poor breeding sales all eroded confidence at farm level.
The IFA Sheep farmers’ leader said Minister Coveney needs to take a number of important decisions at this critical time including a roll-over of the€10 per ewe Sheep Grassland Payment, support for the sheep sector in CAP 2013, grant aid for discussion groups, the maintenance of TAMS, facilitating the live export trade and a resolution to the problems with EID tagging.
James Murphy said the Minister must immediately announce the roll-over of the important Sheep Grassland payment which is critical to the sheep sector. He said this is made up from unused CAP funds, which will be available to the sheep sector until the new CAP is implemented, most lightly not until 2015 at this stage. The payment is worth €10 per ewe or a total of €18m per annum.
The sheep sector did not fare well in previous CAP reform agreements, being denied extensification premium payments in the Fischler Reform package. “Minister Coveney must correct the situation now and insist that there is a full option on a strong coupled payment for sheep this time.”
James Murphy said it is very unfair that sheep were excluded from the discussion group funding last year and Minister Coveney should remedy this position in the forthcoming budget. He said with very little additional funding sheep could be added to the livestock discussion group package.
The IFA Sheep farmers leader said it is very important that the TAMS investment funding for sheep fencing and handling equipment is maintained.
In addition, James Murphy said Minister Coveney needs to address the outstanding issues with sheep EID and tagging and work to resolve and remove the restrictions on the important live export trade which is vital for price competition.
The IFA Sheep farmers’ leader said the sheep sector is the second largest enterprise in terms of farmer involvement with 30,000 producers and is worth over €250m per annum.