On 8th June, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, announced the commencement of the 15% balancing payments to all eligible farmers under year 5 (2021) of the Sheep Welfare Scheme. The Scheme is co-funded by the European Union as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme, 2014-2022.
The rollout of these balancing payments, worth approximately €2 million, brings the total amount paid to 18,100 farmers under the Sheep Welfare Scheme for 2021 to €18 million, providing a significant financial boost to the individual farmers, the sheep sector in general and the wider rural economy. The 85% advance payments issued to eligible farmers in November 2021.
Minister McConalogue stated:
“The increased budget for the scheme secured in Budget 2022 reflects the commitment of both myself and the government to sheep farmers throughout Ireland. The payments issuing today reflect the change to the reference year, bringing the reference year to the higher of farmers’ existing reference number or their 2017 (2019 for new entrants) census return. The Sheep Welfare Scheme is a key component in meeting my department’s goal of promoting and safeguarding animal health and welfare for the benefit of consumers, producers, the economy and wider society, as set out in the department’s Statement of Strategy 2021-2024.”
The Minister concluded by urging farmers with outstanding queries to respond to the department immediately in order to facilitate payment. Payments will continue to issue on an ongoing basis as eligibility is confirmed for farmers with outstanding queries.