The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD today welcomed the industry contribution agreed by stakeholders to Sheep Ireland for sheep breeding. The Minister said “this is a very positive development for the sheep sector and vital to ensure the on-going growth and prosperity of the industry”.
The Minister noted that the industry funding by way of a voluntary levy on sheep slaughtered and on live sheep exported will enable the continued draw down of NDP funds by Sheep Ireland to implement its breeding improvement programmes. Minister Coveney said “I am committed, subject to budgetary constraints, to continuing strong support for Sheep Ireland. This year alone I am providing €0.54m by way of grant and NDP funding, as I am conscious of the significant contribution better breeding can make to family farm profitability. The sheep industry is worth €250m to the economy and is an important farming activity throughout the country”.
The Minister added that in order to establish Sheep Ireland, his Department has provided significant funding to this new organisation over the last 3 years. As part of the agreement, Meat Processors have agreed to a reduction in charges to farmers for assembling ewes for scrapie testing at meat processing plants. Minister Coveney said that his Department will take all reasonable initiatives to minimise the cost to Ireland and the Irish sheep industry of scrapie monitoring and testing while at the same time, ensuring access to export markets for Irish sheep products is not compromised. The Minister added “Sheep Ireland was established as an industry-led organisation in 2009 following extensive consultation with all stakeholders in the industry. It has established an excellent sheep breeding infrastructure that aims to achieve the greatest possible genetic improvement in the national sheep flock”. In conclusion, the Minister acknowledged the role that Sheep Ireland can play in achieving the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020 for the sheep sector.