I introduced the Sheep Welfare Scheme in December 2016 in order to provide support for sheep farmers in improving welfare standards in the national sheep flock. Participating farmers are paid €10 per eligible ewe, and to date some €36m has issued to farmers under the Scheme in respect of the first 2 years of the Scheme.
Given that payments under the Scheme are based on animal numbers, participants are required each year to submit their Sheep Census to my Department. This requirement is set out in the terms and conditions of the Scheme. The numbers of farmers in each year who submitted late Census forms are as follows:
2017 - 476
2018 - 381
2019 - 579
Participants in the scheme who do not submit their Sheep Census return by the due date are notified in writing by my Department and are provided with an opportunity to lodge an appeal outlining the circumstances relating to the late submission.