The Government has been urged to put in place a direct support mechanism for sheep farmers, following collapse in the price of wool over the past year.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy said farmers are being told by buyers that they there are fortunate to not be charged for disposal, let alone receive payment.

Carthy said: “While securing flexibility in the reference year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme brings some level of reprieve, this does not go nearly far enough in providing the level of support farmers require.

“I have heard stories from farmers of being offered €20 for a dozen bags of wool.”

Similar measure

Meanwhile, sheep farmers in Northern Ireland will receive a COVID-19 support fund of £1.27m.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says sheep farmers who have suffered poor wool prices due to the impact of coronavirus on the global market will finally receive much-needed support.

The package was announced by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister Edwin Poots on Friday 2 April.

Carthy said: “The fact that in the north £1.27m has been allocated as an emergency package is evidence of the seriousness of the situation. A similar measure is required in this State.

“The very least of actions that the Minister can take would be to amend the Sheep Welfare Scheme to include the cost of clipping.”