IFA welcome €18M for the sheep sector

IFA President John Bryan welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith on the allocation of €18m per annum in unused CAP funds to the sheep sector.  He said this is positive news for sheep farmers and provides a strong confidence boost for the start of a new lamb season.

The IFA President said by using ewe numbers from the 2009 sheep census, the payment rate will be about €10 per ewe up to a maximum of 210 ewes.

IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy said the IFA had campaigned long and hard for additional direct support for the sheep sector over the last numbers of years.  He said, “The €18m or €10 per ewe is a direct result of the IFA work on behalf of sheep farmers at national and European level.”

James Murphy said the payment details will be based on a per hectare payment and each farmers payment will be calculated using the 2009 ewe numbers from the sheep census data and notional stocking rates.  He said the notional stocking rate for hill areas will be 2.5 ewes per hectare and 7 ewes per hectare in lowland areas.  The farmer’s individual payment will then be calculated using payment rates of €30 per hectare for the first 20 hectares and €25 per hectare for the next 64 hectares in the hill areas and  €70 per hectare up to a maximum of 30 hectares in lowland areas.

The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said these payment arrangements will mean lowland farmers will be paid the equivalent of €10 per ewe and the payment rates for hill sheep farmers will range from €10.48 per ewe to €12 per ewe, depending on the number of ewes and the number of hectares.  He said the additional payments in the hill areas reflect the difficulties facing the hill sheep sector.

James Murphy said the IFA made it clear to Minister Smith and the Department that the payment rates and allocation must be fair and equitable between hill and lowland areas.  He said the Department of Agriculture has confirmed that the payments will be made from December 1st 2010.

The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said the allocation of €18m or €54m over 3 years is a significant decision for the sheep sector.  He said IFA had campaigned strongly for the sheep sector and had identified and secured €18m p.a. in unused funds in the CAP Health Check negotiations. He also welcomed the announcement from Minister Smith of a further allocation of €8m for Grant Aid for sheep fencing and mobile handling facilities.

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