Sheep farmers need financial package following collapse of wool prices – Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has urged the government to put in place a direct support mechanism for sheep farmers following collapse in the price of wool over the last year.
The call follows a £1.27 million package being agreed in the north to support the sector there in the face of the continuing crisis.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Sheep farmers need urgent financial support following a collapse in wool prices that shows no sign of abating. The department have been too slow to respond.
“While securing flexibility in the reference year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme brings some level of reprieve, this does not go nearly far enough in providing the level of support farmers require. I have heard stories from farmers of being offered €20 euro for a dozen bags of wool.
“The scope of this problem cannot be exaggerated – farmers are being told by buyers that they there are fortunate to not be charged for disposal, let alone receive payment.
“Having been concerned about this issue for some time, Sinn Féin proposed to double the Sheep Welfare Payment to €20 per ewe this year – a costed proposal rejected by the Minister.
“The fact that in the north £1.27million has been allocated as an emergency package is evidence of the seriousness of the situation. A similar measure is required in this state.
“The very least of actions that the Minister can take would be to amend the Sheep Welfare Scheme to include the cost of clipping. In of itself, this would not cover the losses sheep farmers are facing, but it would help stem the tide and minimise any further losses.
“In the medium term there is a requirement for a comprehensive strategy aimed at revitalising the Irish wool industry. The recent commissioning of a feasibility study into the sector is welcome but it must be followed by plan that will ensure that the prime product of Irish wool is marketed and promoted at national and international levels so as to deliver a fair and sustainable price for our sheep farmers.”