Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced on Monday that payments worth €19m have commenced under the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS). The 85% advance payment has been approved for approximately 17,000 applicants, meaning there is in the region of 2,000 farmers who have not received payment this week.

The minister said his Department will continue to process “as a matter of urgency all remaining cases as they meet scheme criteria”.

The Department states that the number of applicants who have yet to be approved for payment is in line with recent years, and is urging applicants to submit any outstanding evidence in support of their application to the Department’s Portlaoise Office as soon as possible, to facilitate the release of payments.It has also pointed out that payments may take up to five days to reach farmers’ accounts. The minister added: “The issuing of payment under the SIS is crucial to the sheep sector and farm families. I know the importance of getting payments out to applicants as quickly as possible. Payments commencing today [on Monday] is a significant milestone achieved and is in line with the date notified to farmers.”