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Minister Smith confirms commencement of €8 Million Sheep Fencing/Mobile Handling Equipment Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed the opening of the Sheep Fencing/Mobile Handling Equipment Scheme, for which €8 million has been allocated for grant applications received up to the end of 2013.

The Minister described the new scheme "as one of a number of initiatives aimed at supporting this important sector which is worth €250 million to the Irish economy.  The Irish sheep sector is a hugely valuable export-orientated part of the Irish agri-food sector, with over two-thirds of the product exported supplying a high-value produce to consumer markets throughout Europe. Annual exports to almost 20 markets around the world are now worth approximately €165m."

The sheep fencing and mobile handling scheme will complement the €7 million Uplands Sheep Scheme, launched last year, and the €54 million Grassland Sheep Scheme, launched earlier this year, which Minister Smith said will "provide a much-needed boost to sheep farmers' income."

In order to ensure that grant assistance will flow to successful applicants, the €8 million available under the Scheme will be paid out in a series of tranches, the first of which will run until 31 January 2011 and for which €1.148 million will be available.

As indicated previously, the Department will apply a series of selection criteria to determine the successful applications (see attached annex).

Minister Smith said that the "importance of the sheep industry had been clearly identified in the Food Harvest 2020 Report, which shows that a growth in output value of 20 per cent is achievable by 2020."

Full details of the terms and conditions of the Scheme are available on the Department's website at www.agriculture.gov.ie

Note for Editors

Funding of €8 million has been allocated to the Sheep Fencing and Mobile Handling Equipment Scheme.  Under the terms of the Rural Development Programme, grant-aid is limited and a standard grant-rate of 40 per cent will be applicable in all cases up to a maximum eligible investment ceiling of €10,000, i.e. a maximum grant of €4,000.

The following items are eligible for grant-aid under the Scheme

  • Mobile specialised sheep spraying equipment;
  • Mobile sheep handling units (including footbaths);
  • Mobile weighing facilities;
  • Mobile rollover crates;
  • Mobile 'batch' footbaths;
  • Mobile penning, up to a maximum of 75 metres (as part of a handling unit);
  • Fencing (excluding gates).

Selection criteria

Applications for aid will be assessed in accordance with the following criteria in order of priority

  • Size of breeding flock, with priority given to farmers as per a marking sheet which is available on request from the Department's Office in Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford or on the Department's website, under the heading 'Farm Buildings';
  • Percentage of production units derived from sheep;
  • The proposed cost of the project by the applicant as set out in the application form.  For this purpose, applicants will be given preference where the proposed costs are lower than the Department's Reference Costs;
  • Age of applicant (priority will be afforded to farmers who are between their 18th and 35th birthday on the date of application);
  • Participant in a Sheep Ireland sheep breed improvement programme at the time of application;
  • Priority to applicants where any part of the holding that is owned or leased in a less favoured area.

Date Released: 01 November 2010