Written Answers. - Sheep Headage Payments.

30.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if, in view of the particularly inclement winter weather, he will immediately postpone headage inspections for mountain sheep until 1 June to allow these sheep to reach their normal condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Under the EC Regulations governing the ewe premium scheme inspections must be carried out within 100 days of the last day for accepting applications. In Ireland's case, this date was 14 March 1986 and inspections must be completed, therefore, by 20 June 1986.

If inspections of mountain sheep were to be postponed until 1 June they could not possibly be completed by 20 June. Furthermore, postponement of inspections would rule out early payment of both ewe premium and sheep headage grants.

My Department's inspection staff usually inspect the lowland flocks first and then move on to the mountain flocks later. I might add that two-thirds of inspections have been completed to date and no great difficulties have been encountered.