Speaking ahead of Sheep 2018 taking place in Athenry tomorrow, IFA President Joe Healy said IFA has made it very clear to Minister for Agriculture Michael 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.
Joe Healy said sheep farmers are very annoyed with the decision of the Minister on EID, as it comes on top of a very difficult year, where feed costs soared, losses were high and now we have a major drought situation. He said with average incomes of €16,897 in 2017, sheep farming cannot carry more costs.
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. Joe Healy said the benefits of EID predominantly go to the Department of Agriculture, the factories and the marts and not farmers.
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.
On the lamb trade, IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said strong lamb prices are essential to profitability. He said the factories need to act in a responsible manner and stabilise the market in the current conditions.
Sean Dennehy said sheep farmers should consider all options to avoid selling under-finished lambs including meal feeding. “Tighter supplies, strong market demand, increased promotions on the domestic market, earlier and increased Muslim festival demand, along with store buying should all help underpin the market.”
The IFA sheep farmer leader said, 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. This will be a key issues for our Budget 2019 lobbying and sheep farmers expect Minister Creed to support for the sheep sector. He said this payment would provide a critical income boost for both lowland and hill sheep farmers.
Sheep farmers cannot afford any cuts to their direct payments from CAP budget cuts. IFA President Joe Healy said, “While the CAP Budget reduction has been presented by the EU Commission as a 5% cut, when the effects of inflation are taken into account, the real impact is 17% or €3,000 on average per farmer. The proposals would mean a loss of €256m each year to Irish farmers and the Irish economy.
“It is time for our political leaders to stand up for farmers and rural Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the IFA AGM earlier this year that he has farmers’ backs. Now is the time to prove it. He must insist the CAP Budget for Ireland is increased to cover the cost of inflation and to pay for any additional requirements placed on farmers.”
IFA has commenced an intense lobby campaign on CAP and will be meeting with TDs and MEPs from all constituencies in the coming weeks.