Commenting on the issuing of the advance payments for the 2021 Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS), IFA Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the new reference periods are worth over €2m more for farmers in the scheme.
He said the new reference periods for the scheme provide established flocks with the higher of 2017, or the original 2014/2015 reference years, for payment calculations. New entrants can use 2019 to reflect the process of establishing their flock.
Sean Dennehy said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced his intentions earlier this year to update the reference periods to better reflect the actual activity levels on sheep farms, following IFA’s calls to bring the reference periods up to date.
“The Minister has honoured this commitment and provided the additional funding for this year’s and next year’s SWS, increasing payments to farmers by over €4m over the two-year period,” he said.
Sean Dennehy said the focus must now be on building on this Scheme in the new CAP, to bring payments to €30/ewe. He said the current Strategic Plan lacks the funding and ambition to provide this and must be amended.
He said the sheep sector offers huge environmental and socio-economic benefits in some of the most difficult lands in the country.
“The sector is extremely vulnerable and its long-term sustainability is dependent on meaningful targeted payments to the farmers who lamb ewes, which is the cornerstone of the entire sheep sector,” he said.