Minister McConalogue announces opening of a new €15m National Sheep Welfare Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. today announced the opening of applications for a new National Sheep Welfare Scheme (NSWS).

The scheme will operate in 2024 with a budget of €15m. Participants in the NSWS will be required to complete two actions to receive the full payment of €8 per ewe. The scheme consists of four possible measures, equally applicable to upland and lowland flocks, and grouped into two categories as follows:

  • Category A – shearing or body condition scoring of ewes
  • Category B – clostridial vaccination of ewes (or lambs if ewes are already vaccinated) or plunge dipping of ewes

Farmers joining the NSWS must indicate at the application stage which options they intend to carry out by selecting one from each category. The maximum number of breeding ewes eligible for payment under the scheme will be determined by reference to the numbers declared for each participating flock in the sheep census returns from 2020 to 2023. Completed actions must be recorded on the Scheme Action Record Sheets which will be provided by the department to participants.

Referring to the combined worth of both schemes, the Minister said “When announcing details of my department’s budget for 2024, I spoke of my determination to use the funding to protect farmer incomes through both CAP and national schemes. With today’s scheme, I have fulfilled my undertaking to provide an additional payment for sheep farmers which, together with the SIS payments, will result in a payment equivalent to €20 per ewe in 2024. This represents a doubling of the sheep payment from 2022 and is the highest payment ever provided to enhance animal health and welfare of our vitally important sheep sector.”

The scheme launched today complements the multi-annual Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS) funded under Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan until 2027. The SIS supports farmers carrying out actions that improve animal health and welfare of their sheep enterprises with a budget allocation of €100m. Last year, approximately 17,000 farmers received advance payments for participating in the first year of the SIS.

On the formal opening of the new scheme, the Minister said “This scheme consists of a practical menu of health and welfare measures that are applicable to all types of sheep enterprises. It is designed to appeal to all sheep farmers regardless of their flock size or production system, including those not currently participating in the existing Sheep Improvement Scheme. The scheme sends a strong signal of my commitment to the sector and provides a valuable injection of support that will boost producer confidence in the future viability of sheep farming.”

Scheme applications, which must be submitted before 23.59 on 21 May 2024, can be made by a farmer or an approved FAS advisor acting on their behalf using the online facility at www.agfood.ie

The full terms and conditions of the NSWS and other relevant scheme information are available here.

(Source: Gov.ie)

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