Politicians flocking for the farm vote
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has pledged support for the sheep sector in a form of a new scheme that could mirror the beef genomics scheme for the suckler herd.
Both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Coveney said the party would always "prioritise" agriculture, as they hit out at opposition claims that they had presided over a two-tier economic recovery.
On a visit to the Richardson sheep, suckler and tillage farm outside Tullow, Co Carlow, Fine Gael highlighted its plans to roll out a regional action plan to reduce unemployment to under 7pc in all regions.
"There will be an upcoming mid-term review of the CAP and we will, of course, be looking at opportunities to build on some of the schemes we have already been rolling out to support the beef sector, to support sheep, to support dairy, particularly given the pressures on pricing over the last 12 months," said Mr Coveney.
He said they were committing to a new sheep scheme that will be most likely similar to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), to make farmers more efficient through better breeding.
Amid criticism of the beef forum with the recent removal of the moratorium on weights above 420kg, Mr Coveney said he remained committed to continuing the forum and it was set up to talk through problems.
"But that doesn't mean it can dictate to everybody, the beef forum was built on consensus," he said, adding it had been an "important tool".
"People from outside the beef forum expect miracles from it, the beef forum does not dictate price - it can't," he said.