Welcome for sheep money as weather woes rise

Michael Murphy: Payments welcome after a tough year.
Michael Murphy: Payments welcome after a tough year.

CONFIRMATION that 85% advance payments in the Sheep Welfare Scheme are underway have been welcomed by Galway IFA and by local public representatives.

Galway IFA Sheep Chairman, Michael Murphy, said that the payments would be a very welcome cash boost for sheep farmers after a very difficult late Summer and Autumn period due to poor weather and ground conditions.

“It has proven to be a very difficult period for sheep farmers with the ongoing rains and poor ground conditions making it both difficult and expensive to finish off lambs.

“While we would like to see a 100% pay-out under the Sheep Welfare Scheme, the 85% advance is still very welcome and sheep farmers should make sure that everything is in order to collect the money,” said Michael Murphy.

He also reminded sheep farmers to be mindful of one of the scheme’s stipulations as regards maintaining the number of ewes they had submitted for payment.

According to the Dept. of Agriculture, in all cases where an applicant is approved into the scheme on the basis of a particular reference number of breeding ewes, this number of ewes must be retained and made available for inspection where required for that scheme year.

East Galway TD and Minister of State, Ciaran Cannon, said that a total of €16 million would now issue to 20,000 farmers across the country, averaging out at just under €700 per head. The payment rate is €10 per ewe.

He urged farmers with any outstanding queries to respond to the Department immediately in order to facilitate payment as soon as possible.

“Year two of the scheme will be opening in the coming weeks and my Department will be in contact with farmers shortly to advise them of this.

“At that stage, there will also be an opportunity for new entrants to the sector to join the scheme,” said Minister Cannon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.