Beef and Lamb

Sheep Task Force is frustrated at the lack of progress

The NI Sheep Task Force is frustrated at DAERA for the lack of progress around future sheep schemes when considering future agriculture policy. Currently, farmers in NI are worse off than their counterparts in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland in terms of support.  Sheep farming is a key part of the agricultural economy and a key element in countryside management to benefit the environment.

A task force was set up by the industry to look at ways to maintain viability and improve productivity within the sheep sector. A report was conducted and has now been with DAERA for some time.  This report set out several ways to maintain the viability of the sheep sector. A lack of progress flies in the face of encouragement for the industry which has produced suggestions to create a sustainable future for the agricultural industry.

UFU deputy president, John McLenaghan, says organisations from across the industry spent some time on the report and we want to see action.  “ What we do know is that farmers deserve better for the effort they have put into the task force report.  We now have political structures back in place at Stormont so let’s see action,” he said.

Under DAERA plans other livestock sector schemes have been created to boost payments in return for improvements that will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Still, no scheme has been developed for the sheep industry. The task force report sets out the potential for improved sheep genetics to make the sector more competitive.

“Sheep farming is difficult even at the best of times regarding profitability. The industry, through the task force, has been proactive and willing to co-design meaningful support measures for an industry that is a vital part of the economic and environmental mix of agriculture.  We look forward to sitting down with DAERA to progress the real gains that the report sets out for the sheep sector”.