The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has announced the launch of the new Sheep Improvement Scheme.
The scheme aims the “build on progress” under the Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS) in the 2014-2022 Rural Development Programme (RDP).
According to the DAFM, it has been designed to support farmers in undertaking actions that improve animal welfare in the sheep sector.
Sheep Improvement Scheme
According to the DAFM, the scheme will be a one-year contract with automatic renewal unless a farmer or the DAFM triggers the opt-out option.
The main difference between the scheme is that all farmers will have to carry out the genotyped ram action at least once during the scheme’s lifetime.
The first year of the scheme is February 1st, 2023, and it will end on December 31st, 2023.
Then, for each subsequent year of the scheme, it will run from January 1st to December 31st.
Payment under the scheme – which is open to farmers with breeding ewes – will be at a rate of €12 per eligible breeding ewe for welfare measures; reductions will apply where a farmer has not completed all actions.
This is an increase from the €10 per eligible breeding ewe under the Sheep Welfare Scheme.
Farmers complete two actions, which fall into category A, which carries a payment of €7.00 and category B, which they will receive €5.00 under.
Who can apply?
Existing sheep farmers who wish to participate in the scheme must apply to join the scheme before the deadline.
According to a DAFM spokesperson, it will not be possible for existing sheep farmers to apply to join the scheme in subsequent years.
However, there will be a provision for new entrants to sheep farming as per the terms and conditions of the scheme to apply to join the scheme.
How to apply
Applications for the scheme can be made by the farmer or by a Farm Advisory System (FAS) approved advisor via the application facility on www.agfood.ie.
The closing date for the submission of applications was midnight on Monday, December 19th, 2022, but the DAFM extended it to January 9th, 2023.
In a separate news article, we looked at various scheme options and provided more detail on the genotyped ram action.