Confidence is boosted by new sheep scheme
Sheep farmer confidence has been bolstered by the €54m grassland sheep scheme announced by the Department of Agriculture last week -- but returns for finished stock will also have to improve industry sources claim.
The new payment, which will see farmers paid €25-70/ha for ewes, is not the complete solution for the ailing sheep industry.
"This is a welcome payment for sheep farmers, amounting to around €10/ewe," said IFA sheep chairman James Murphy.
"But in order to get stability in the national ewe flock, we need a concerted effort from all parties involved in the sector," he insisted.
"There is a change of mindset required from everyone, from the farmer, processors, retailer and Teagasc."
Mr Murphy said the general trend in sheep farming has been one of stagnation.
"This €54m scheme is a significant step in the right direction but we need consistently better prices for lambs to create confidence in sheep farming," he maintained.
Department census figures show that national flock fell to 2.1m breeding ewes last year, and high prices for cull ewes at present means farmers are still selling off breeding stock.