At the meeting of the national Executive of the ICSA in Portlaoise last week, the chairman of the Sheep Committee, Sean McNamara, introduced a proposal that the government establish a Sheep Taskforce to help ensure the future viability of the husbandry of sheep in Ireland.
Pointing out that the ovine sector was worth €294 million in export sales in 2019, he said that sector is still not getting the support that it merits.
“Sheep farmers are fed up of being a political afterthought,” he said.
“The ICSA believes the need for a dedicated Sheep Taskforce is clear. The sector must be properly acknowledged and the future viability of sheep farmers must be addressed. It is unacceptable that sheep farmers have been left out of any Covid compensation packages. Likewise, despite repeated calls from ICSA, there has been no BEAM type scheme for sheep farmers to compensate for Brexit related market fluctuations.
The announcement that applications to avail of loan funding through the Future Growth Loan Scheme has been given a broad welcome by the farming associations as the programme will provide €500 million specifically for investment purposes but may be used for long-term developments in either tangible or intangible assets associated with agricultural production.
“Like all businesses people, farmers need to invest in their productive assets and as societies and markets began to move forward and through the Covid crisis, funds are needed to be available for borrowing and investment,” David Diggins, the chairman of Kerry ICMSA, said.
“This announcement is welcomed by the farming sector, with 40% of the additional funds ring-fenced for agriculture,” the cathaoirleach of the IFA Farm Business Committee, Rose Mary McDonagh, said.