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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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€16.6m in balancing Sheep Welfare Scheme payments commence

Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the commencement of the 15% balancing payments to all eligible farmers under year 4 of the Sheep Welfare Scheme.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, made the announcement earlier this morning (Thursday, May 27th).

The European Union co-funds the scheme as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme, 2014-2020.

The rollout of the balancing payments brings the total paid under Year 4 of the Sheep Welfare Scheme to €16.6 million to some 18,300 farmers.

According to the minister, this provides a “significant financial boost to the individual farmers, the sheep sector in general and the wider rural economy”.

Sheep Welfare Scheme payments 2021

Minister McConalogue stated, “The commencement of the balancing payments under the scheme on time continues to reflect the commitment of this Government to the sheep sector in Ireland, particularly in light of the challenging environment faced by farmers in the sector.”

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“I was pleased to announce an extension to the scheme for Budget 2021, reflecting the continued commitment of this Government to the scheme and sheep farmers throughout Ireland.”

“The Sheep Welfare Scheme is a key component in meeting my Department’s goal of promoting and safeguarding animal health and welfare for the benefit of consumers, producers, the economy and wider society, as set out in the Department’s Statement of Strategy 2021-2024 and Action Plan 2021. It also underlines my absolute commitment to the sector.”

The minister concluded by urging farmers with outstanding queries to respond to the Department immediately to facilitate payment.

Payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as eligibility is confirmed for farmers with outstanding queries.

Amend scheme 

Meanwhile, two Sinn Féin TDs have called on Minister Charlie McConalogue to consider amending the Sheep Welfare Scheme “in the interests of ensuring animal welfare as a result of the continued depression in wool prices”.

Sorca Clarke, Longford-Westmeath, and Cavan-Monaghan-based Matt Carthy, raised the parliamentary questions last week.

Deputy Carthy said: “I was speaking with a farmer in the minister’s constituency who told me he was offered €20 for one dozen bags of wool.”

“This tells us how stark the problem is. He indicated that he was relieved not to be charged for having the wool removed. It is very important that this work continues.”

“On the Sheep Welfare Scheme, I thought it was a simple enough

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