IRELAND - Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) sheep chairman John Brooks has welcomed news that funding of €25m has been proposed for the sheep sector in the new Programme for Government.
“ICSA has long been calling for a specific sheep scheme to be introduced that would deliver real benefits for sheep farmers," said Mr Brooks.
"Our focus has been on ensuring that whatever measures are introduced, they do not interfere with supply in relation to demand.”
ICSA is opposed to any policy that focuses on increasing sheep numbers, believing any incentive for farmers to increase numbers would be counter productive and result only in a decrease in price.
ICSA has been lobbying for premium of €10-€12 which would strike a balance between income support and keeping supplies in check. It is for this reason that ICSA has resisted calls for an EU wide coupled ewe premium as it would cause a surge in numbers and distort the fine balance between supply and demand.
Mr Brooks said: “What is being proposed in the new Programme for Government is a targeted sheep scheme within the rural development programme in Ireland. It does not form part of any EU wide scheme which is to be welcomed.
"Irish sheep farmers can expect a payment amounting to about €10 per ewe which is unlikely to disrupt the balance between supply and demand. This can only be seen as good news for sheep farmers struggling with low levels of return on a continual basis.”
In conclusion, Mr Brooks said: “We have to be careful to strike the correct balance so that policy decisions do not lead to a glut of sheepmeat on the market. So far this year we have seen that a slight increase in production across Europe has resulted in a dip in price."
TheSheepSite News Desk