The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has accused Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue of letting sheep farmers down by failing to secure sufficient supports for the sector.

Its sheep chair Sean McNamara claimed that a €12/ewe payment under the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS) is an insult to those trying to make a living from sheep, especially with farm costs rising.

“CAP payments are supposed to support farmers, not make a mockery of them,” the Co Longford sheep farmer said.

“€12 per breeding ewe is an insult in this day and age, particularly now as we are watching our costs rise on an almost daily basis.”

McNamara stated that the ICSA had laid out a pathway to rise sheep payments to €35/ewe when the CAP was being negotiated.

“The Minister failed sheep farmers then and he failed them again when he delivered no targeted supports for sheep farmers in the budget. It’s just not good enough,” he said.

In the dark on Food Vision

The ICSA also drew attention to the fact that plans to improve the sustainability of the sheep sector have yet to feature in the Food Vision beef and sheep group discussions.

Minister McConalogue set up the group earlier this year and tasked it with delivering a plan to take the drystock sector in line with Government climate ambitions.

“All the while, individual sheep farmers are becoming less and less economically viable and can’t see a way to stay going,” McNamara added.

“This is a real shame for a sector that has a lot to offer in terms of their less intensive, biodiversity friendly systems of farming and their low carbon stamp.

“It is very short-sighted not to incentivise sheep farmers to keep doing what they are doing rather than switch to a system of farming that may be more profitable, but ultimately less environmentally sustainable.”

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