Awarding the sheep sector financial support under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) could be difficult, Minister of State for new market development Martin Heydon TD has warned.

Responding to a suggestion by Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy that the sheep sector could receive BAR funding, Minister Heydon said that “pardon the pun, the bar to qualify for the BAR, the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, is very high”.

“You have to prove a direct link to the impact from Brexit,” he said.

Farm organisations have also been calling for BAR funding to be allocated to sheep farmers.

Minister Heydon was speaking in the Dáil on Thursday morning.

‘Every option’

However, the Minister of State said Department of Agriculture officials are looking at “every option” to support sheep farmers caught in an income crisis.

Minister Heydon told Matt Carthy TD that Department officials have been asked to examine what potential supports, if any, could be put in place to support sheep farmers in light of these recent challenges.

Department officials are examining what supports can be afforded to the sheep sector. \ Philip Doyle

“Budgets for 2023 have been set and locked in place. Changes to this will require careful assessment, as well as diverting funds from previously agreed areas.

“We have a sheep sector in Ireland, both lowland and upland, that we can be proud of and the Government is determined to ensure there is a long-term and sustainable future for that sector,” he said.


Deputy Carthy also asked the Minister about improving market conditions for Irish sheepmeat, something he said Government “absolutely has a role in”.

Minister Heydon said that “huge strides” have been made in gaining “more access to more markets around the world and increased access in the markets we are in”.

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson Matt Carthy TD with party leader Mary Lou McDonald. \ Don Moloney

“Last year, we gained access to the US market. I will be in Washington in May to look at progressing further how we build relationships with key customers across the sector.

“We can talk about all the schemes we want, but, ultimately, sheep farmers want to be paid a top price for their product, which they deserve and for which we continue to strive in the Department,” he said.

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