7th August, 2015
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has called on Minister Coveney to re-consider the exclusion of sheep fencing from the TAMS II programme. “While the previous schemes may have been under subscribed, there has to be an understanding that low income sheep farmers can only avail of grant schemes when their finances allow.
It is also true that opening and closing grant schemes is not an ideal strategy as it leads to a panic to get in while the scheme is open for a limited time with an obvious knock-on effect on construction price inflation. We believe that measures such as sheep fencing should ideally be open on an ongoing basis so that farmers can avail of grants only when their cash flow and profitability permits and on a considered basis rather than jumping in when there is a limited window of opportunity.
Just because there was a limited uptake in the previous scheme is no reason to deny progressive farmers the opportunity to develop their farms. Sheep fencing is an invaluable aid to better grassland management and it should be a priority if we are serious about improving the viability of the sector and increasing exports.
Mr Brooks also suggested that the spec for sheep fencing needed to be looked at again as many sheep farmers argue that it is totally over the top and adds unnecessary expense.
He concluded by saying that the obsession with dairy expansion was perhaps unwise and that the sheep sector should not be treated unfairly. “The Minister needs to realise that supporting sheep fencing will be of undoubted benefit not only to the farmers involved but to the export sector. Critically, not many sheep farmers will require unsustainable borrowings from undertaking a modest fencing investment. Can the same be said for the very ambitious plans for large scale dairy units?”