IFA Hill Committee Chairman, Pat Dunne has welcomed the proposal for the introduction of a new Sheep Scheme in the amendments to the 2014-2020 Rural Development Plan.
Pat Dunne said the €10/ewe scheme is badly needed in hill areas, which represent up to 30% of the National Sheep Flock. He said the flexibilities in the criteria recognising practical issues in commonages, following representation by IFA, are very important.
The IFA Hill Chairman said flexibilities on parasite control, breeding and mineral supplementation are necessary to take account of the different management regimes required in hill areas. In relation to the number of sheep qualifying for payment in commonages, recognition of the requirements of the GLAS Commonage Plan, and not the average of the historic 2014-2015 reference which was proposed elsewhere, is important.
Pat Dunne said hill farmers, given their low income situation require significant direct payment support. The sheep scheme along with BPS, ANC and GLAS will help in supporting this low income sector. IFA has already set-out proposals for substantial increase in ANC payments in hill areas to coincide with ANC review which will take place next year.