Sheep Welfare Scheme opens for new applicants
Year three of the scheme will commence on 2 February with all existing participants automatically enrolled.

Year three of the Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS) will commence on 2 February with applications from new entrants to sheep farming accepted until Friday, 1 February.

Existing participants in the scheme will be automatically enrolled in year three and will not need to take any action should they wish to remain in the scheme.

The scheme defines a new entrant to sheep farming as an applicant who has applied for a new flock number from 1 January 2018 and prior to 31 December 2018.

An applicant with an existing flock number who has not held or traded sheep for a two-year period up to 31 October preceding the scheme year will also be considered a new entrant.

Positive contribution

Commenting on the reopening of the scheme, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed stated: “The Sheep Welfare Scheme provides support to farmers for undertaking actions which make a positive contribution to flock welfare.”

He said that information packs containing the 2019 terms and conditions along with the action record book will be shortly issued to existing participants.

Application forms can be obtained by contacting the SWS section of the Department by email at sheepscheme@agriculture.gov.ie or via the Direct Payments Helpdesk at 076 1064420.

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Farm finance: sheep census reminder
Sheep farmers have until the end of January to return 2018 sheep census forms by post, with the deadline extended for online submissions.

Sheep farmers should be aware that the deadline for returning 2018 sheep census forms is Thursday 31 January via post or Thursday 14 February for online submissions.

The census date is Monday 31 December and the closing date for receipt of completed 2018 forms returned by post in the pre-addressed envelope provided is Thursday 31 January.

While the census return can be made by ordinary post, it should be noted that in the event of a dispute the only acceptable proof of postage is a registered post receipt – a postal certificate or express post receipt is not acceptable.

The census returns may also be submitted online via www.agfood.ie (closing date extended to Thursday 14 February). The online system provides confirmation when a submission has been completed.

‘Even docile dogs can be killers’ – owners urged to be responsible
Over the coming months some 2.5m lambs will be born on Irish farms. Flocks are extremely vulnerable to dog attacks at this time of the year.

Dog owners have been urged to be responsible ahead of the main lambing season.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Dog Control Séan Canney highlighted that even the most docile of dogs can turn into killers.

Minister Canney said owners must be mindful that responsibilities for dog ownership not only include feeding and housing and pets, but also controlling them at all times.

He said dogs should never be let out unsupervised, especially at night.

Attacks

Canney highlighted the fact that dogs can and do cause real serious injuries to sheep which has a knock-on emotional and financial effect on farmers and their families.

Minister Canney added: “We are all aware of the terrible dog attacks on sheep over the last number of years. This is not acceptable.

"Dog wardens and the Garda Síochána are doing what they can, but they cannot be in every part of the country at all times.

“The solution rests with dog owners. Whether you live in or near the countryside or visit it for recreational purposes, I ask that you be on guard the whole time.

"Do not give your dog the opportunity to attack sheep and cause distress and pain to both sheep flocks and their owners.’’

Liable

Under the Control of Dogs Act owners are held liable to compensate farmers for economic losses sustained as a result of a dog attack.

Over the coming months some 2.5m lambs will be born on Irish farms. Flocks are extremely vulnerable to dog attacks at this time of the year.

Dog owners are asked to be particularly vigilant and care should be taken to ensure all dogs are secure at night time.

New Zealand lamb access to EU to halve post-Brexit
After BrexIt, the access for tariff-free New Zealand lamb will be split 50:50 between the UK and EU.

The volume of New Zealand lamb that can enter the EU tariff-free will halve after Brexit.

New Zealand can send 228,254t of sheepmeat tariff-free to Europe under existing Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs).

On Wednesday, the EU Parliament voted to divide the quotas between the EU and the UK post-Brexit depending on current usage.

The UK takes 50% of New Zealand lamb imported into the EU.

New Zealand’s access to the UK and EU will now be 114,116t each.