Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (979)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

979. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will review the sheep welfare scheme reference year for a person (details supplied) in County Kerry who has increased their flock of sheep and reduced their cattle stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38296/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Sheep Welfare Scheme was launched in December 2016, for a period of four years. The scheme reflected the commitment of the Government to the sheep sector in Ireland and was introduced as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP).

The person named applied to join the Sheep Welfare Scheme in January 2017. As per the terms and conditions of the scheme, the eligible number of breeding ewes for the scheme was based on the average number of breeding ewes declared by the applicant on their 2014 and 2015 Sheep Census return.

This number forms the reference number for payment for applicants for the duration of the scheme and is not permitted to increase, unless where required in line with an applicant’s obligations under the GLAS scheme.

In the case of the person named, the number of eligible breeding ewes/reference number for payment was determined to be 104 for the duration of the scheme and was based on the number of eligible ewes declared by the person named on his 2014 and 2015 Sheep Census return. The maintenance of a fixed reference period based on the years preceding the scheme was required as part of the agreement of the Scheme with the EU Commission for inclusion in our RDP.

As part of Budget 2021, I secured an additional allocation of €17m for the extension of the Sheep Welfare scheme for a further year in 2021. The existing provisions of the terms and conditions of the scheme, including the applicable reference number for payment for applicants, will remain in place during the period covered by the extension.