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Minister Smith confirms opening of €8 Million Sheep Fencing and Mobile Handling Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed that a new €8 million sheep fencing and mobile handling scheme will be open for applications from 1 November 2010.

The scheme is part of the Rural Development Programme and will help sheep farmers in reducing labour input.  Minister Smith said that the scheme will "complement the €7 million Uplands Sheep Scheme, launched last year, and the €54 million Grassland Sheep Scheme, launched earlier this year, which will provide a much-needed boost to sheep farmers' income."

The Minister was also pleased to note that Teagasc had estimated that the margins of sheep farmers would increase by 28% this year as a result of a combination of lower costs and higher prices. Minister Smith recognised that the sector had come through a difficult period. However, he expected that the increase in margins together with the income boost that sheep farmers would receive in the period 2010 - 2012 from the €54m grassland sheep scheme  would provide considerable confidence for the future of sheep farming in Ireland.

The Minister described the sheep sector as a "hugely valuable export-orientated part of the Irish agri-food sector, supplying a high-value product to consumer markets throughout Europe."  The Irish sheep industry is worth around €250 million to the Irish economy and over two-thirds of the product is exported.

Minister Smith said that the recently published Food Harvest 2020 report identified potential for growth in output value of 20 per cent in the sheep sector by 2020 and expressed his confidence that this ambitious target was entirely achievable.  The Minister said that the report presents both challenges and opportunities to the agri-food industry and reiterated his personal commitment and that of the Government to its successful delivery and acknowledged the contribution which the sector could play in the country's economic recovery.

The Minister said that the announcement of the sheep fencing and handling scheme was another in a series of initiatives being taken to support this important sector, which includes an intensification of the efforts by Bord Bia to promote lamb on the home and export markets.  Minister Smith said "I am confident that all of these initiatives will be of significant assistance in developing a strong and sustainable sheep sector for the future."

Press Release 147/10 - 18.08.10

L-R Niall Matthews, Teagasc Monaghan, Roslyn McQuaid Teagasc Cavan, Briain Kerr Farmer and Minister Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Press Release 147/10 - 18.08.10

Briain Kerr Farmer and Minister Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food


Date Released: 18 August 2010