Rural TDs said today that they were “standing firmly” with sheep farmers in their campaign for increased government support, as they brought an “urgent message to the doorstep of the Department of Agriculture”.
The TDs were speaking as sheep farmers announced a protest in Dublin next week , saying the Government was ignoring the crisis caused by the ongoing fall in prices.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association will mount a protest at the Dáil and the Department of Agriculture in Dublin on Tuesday, February 28, at noon, with the ICSA sheep chair, Seán McNamara, claiming sheep farmers are “at their wits’ end, they are crying out for help but nobody is listening”.
Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, leader of the Rural Independent Group, restated the urgent need for financial aid to be provided to sheep farmers, emphasizing the group’s call for action.
“The dire income crisis on sheep farms is ravaging our hardworking farmers and pushing them to the brink of financial ruin. Despite repeated calls for action, the government has thus far failed to address this devastating situation. But enough is enough. Sheep farmers have taken their pleas to Dublin this week to demand immediate and urgent financial support.”
“The shocking reality is that the margins of our sheep farmers have been obliterated, plummeting by an astounding 81% to a measly €7 per ewe in 2022. And with limited hope for improvement in 2023, the situation is dire,” he said.
Irish Farmers’ Association sheep chair Kevin Comiskey has written to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue asking for “immediate direct support” as the crisis deepens.
Last week in Roscommon Town, hundreds of sheep farmers protested the worsening situation in their sector, but a national protest will now be held in Dublin.
Deputy McGrath said that Rural TDs were “demanding that the government takes immediate action and provide direct and targeted support of at least €30 per ewe to alleviate the crisis.”
“We, the Rural Independent Group, recommended such payment in our 2023 pre-budget submission, but the government chose to ignore us and offer a paltry and grossly insufficient payment of €12 per ewe through the Sheep Improvement Scheme, which does nothing to mitigate the impact of inflation on the sector,” he said.
“The sheep sector is one of Ireland’s most significant farm sectors, and it sustains 36,000 farms across some of the country’s most challenging land types. Without substantial financial aid, these farms will be at grave risk. That’s why we urgently call on the Minister for Agriculture to provide a new ewe premium of at least €30 per ewe, and we demand a swift response. The livelihoods of our sheep farmers depend on it,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.