The Rural Independent Group has called on the DAFM to increase the 2022 Sheep Welfare Scheme payment rate to €30/ewe.
Its 2022 pre-budget submission made provisions for a Sheep Welfare Scheme with this payment rate, which opposes the government’s €10/ewe scheme.
The group has called for increased funding to mitigate “skyrocketing” production costs.
It cited the government’s carbon tax and “blatant” targeting of the agricultural sector for “overly zealous” carbon emission reductions as the primary reasons for price hikes.
Leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie McGrath, welcomed confirmation from the DAFM the sixth year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme will commence on February 1st, 2022.
This follows the group’s pre-budget submission, which called for a scheme extension.
The deputy said the Sheep Welfare Scheme is an “essential payment” for almost 35,000 sheep farmers across the state, with a breeding ewe flock of 2.6 million ewes.
He added that sheep production is an “essential component” of Irish agriculture. The deputy stressed that the state must “adequately” support it through the CAP.
“Therefore, while we welcome the continuation of the scheme, we believe the payment level of €10/ewe is grossly inadequate and will be completely eroded within the current increased prices to feed and fertiliser.”
“For instance, many animal feed mills have told farmers that feed costs are set to jump a further €20-€25/t.”
“We urge all sheep farmers to avail of this scheme in 2022. We will also be pushing the government to provide a fairer and much-enhanced scheme.”
Sheep Welfare Scheme
The government increased the allocation for the Sheep Welfare Scheme from €17m in 2021 to €19.5m in 2022 to:
- Cover the scheme’s continuation in 2022;
- Change the reference year.
As in previous years, the DAFM will automatically enrol all existing participants in year 6 of the scheme.
Minister McConalogue confirmed that these farmers do not need to take any action to remain in the scheme.
The minister urged all eligible new entrants to return their forms by February 1st, 2022.