A case of trying to pull the wool over department eyes
SHEEP fencing grants must be ring-fenced for farmers with flocks as it emerged grants could potentially be issued to farmers with no sheep.
Eagle-eyed ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks, who spotted the loophole in the TAMS II grant application paperwork, questioned the logic of issuing grants for sheep fencing to farmers with no sheep.
"As it stands, applications for sheep fencing are being accepted by the Department of Agriculture from farmers who don't have any sheep - this is an unacceptable situation," he said.
ICSA called for the money allocated to sheep fencing to be ring-fenced for sheep farmers. "Sheep farmers have waited long enough for a share of TAMS money. Sheep fencing is very important for better grassland management and, of course, vital to keep sheep at home.
"It is also important to note that the sheep enterprise does not lend itself to huge capital expenditure and this is one of the few measures that sheep farmers can realistically benefit from."
However, the number of farmers from other sectors looking to apply for sheep fencing is unknown. Sheep fencing can prove more costly than single strand electric fencing.
He said there was no issue in allowing new entrants to sheep farming access the scheme provided they remained in sheep farming for five years afterwards.