Meat & Livestock News

EU Approval Necessary for SIS Payment Increases, States Minister McConalogue

Any potential increases in the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS) payments to Irish sheep farmers would necessitate the consent of the European Commission, says Charlie McConalogue, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. 

The current SIS payment rate is €12 per breeding ewe, provided the farmers complete two actions from a list of options outlined in the scheme’s terms and conditions.

Minister McConalogue emphasised that the existing SIS payment rates are determined by the agreed costs associated with the actions undertaken within the scheme. “Modifications to the current payment rates would entail changes to the actions that farmers are presently engaged in,” he added. 

The SIS is co-funded by the European Union and falls under the purview of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan. “Any alterations to the scheme’s specifics would require the European Commission’s approval,” the Minister further clarified.

In a related query, Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister about the estimated annual cost of increasing the SIS payments by €1 per ewe for 2024. Minister McConalogue responded that based on the current number of applicants, average flock size, and other eligibility criteria, the estimated annual cost would be approximately €1.9 million.

Irish Wool Industry and Sustainability

Deputy Kerrane also inquired about the government’s initiatives to rejuvenate the Irish wool industry. Eamon Ryan, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, stated that a textile advisory group has been established to explore opportunities for promoting sustainability in the textile sector. 

This group comprises industry, community, and regulatory representatives, and stakeholders from the Irish wool sector actively participate.

Minister Ryan also mentioned that he is open to collaborating with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the wool industry’s sustainability matters. He added that Ireland fully supports European-level initiatives to enhance the global textile value chain’s sustainability, which would also benefit the Irish wool industry.