Deputy Peter Burke, Fine Gael TD for Longford/ Westmeath has this week been informed by the Minister for Agriculture that sheep farmers in this constituency and nationwide have been in receipt of over €617 million euro in government supports.
The Minister highlighted the fact that the funding allocated was a reflection on the vital role sheep farmers play in the export sector.
“I am very conscious of the important role that the sheep sector plays in relation to the continued growth and development of our agri-food sector. For example, some 57,000 tonnes of Irish sheep meat worth €274 million was exported last year, with diversification evident from our traditional primary markets of France and the UK,” explained Minister Michael Creed.
Speaking in the constituency, Dep Burke stated that the increased levels of support given by Government showed not only the improving economic outlook of Ireland, but of the commitment the Minister has in improving farm incomes and the quality of full time farmers.
“If you look at the various funding streams and grants, the amounts allocated are increasing year on year. Sheep farmers continue to benefit from the areas of natural constraint (ANC ) scheme and from GLAS in large numbers in this constituency, as well as from capital investment support under TAMS,” said TD Burke.
With this, the government announced the sheep welfare scheme in December 2016 as an amendment to the RDP. Under this scheme, farmers are required to choose from a menu of actions which aim to improve the overall welfare of their flock.
“Of course, more needs to be done to continue to increase farm incomes, especially in cases where full time farmers are involved with families to support. It is of vital importance the CAP negotiations produce positive outcomes and commitments for Irish farmers and that we continue to open up new markets for our produce, especially in a post Brexit environment,” commented Dep Burke.
Dep Burke who comes from a rural constituency and farming background explained that he understands the challenges facing farmers and plans to continue this emphasis of farming in the government’s agenda.
“We must continue keep the importance of steady farm incomes on the government agenda if we want to hold on to our farmers and maintain the quality produce we have earned a reputation for.”