The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D., today announced the commencement of advance payments under Year 5 of the Sheep Welfare Scheme.

The Minister stated, “I am pleased to announce that a total of almost €16 million is now being paid to some 18,000 farmers participating in the Sheep Welfare Scheme. These payments reflect the change to the reference year, bringing the reference year to the higher of either the farmers’ existing reference number or their 2017 sheep census return. For those who joined as new entrants the reference year is being updated to 2019.”

The Minister also stated, “The change to the reference year better reflects the level of activity on participants’ farms given the passage of time since the introduction of the scheme in 2016. It will mean an increased payment for 11,500 farmers under the scheme and no-one will see their payment being reduced because of this change. The extension of the scheme into 2022 and the change to the reference year reflects both my and this Government’s commitment to the long-term viability of our sheep sector”.

The Minister further noted, “These advance payments at a rate of 85% of the full annual payment are an important support to sheep farmers in the delivery of key welfare actions and provides a financial boost to the individual farmers and the wider rural economy. The balancing payments for the scheme will issue in the second quarter of 2022.”

The Minister added ” I am also happy to confirm that in the recent budgetary process, I secured funding for an additional year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, which will open in February 2022. As in previous years, there will be an opportunity for new entrants to sheep farming to join the scheme.”

In concluding, the Minister urged any farmers with outstanding queries to respond to the Department immediately in order to facilitate payment.