Sinn Fein Agricultural Spokesperson Martin Kenny has welcomed the opening of the new Sheep Welfare Scheme.
The Sligo Leitrim TD said that while the scheme, which is worth €10 per ewe, would be a huge help to struggling farmers he still had some concerns around inspections.
Deputy Kenny said, "This scheme has great potential to help sheep farmers who have been struggling over the last number of years. While the measures that farmers have to implement to fulfil the terms of the scheme will greatly benefit and improve the national sheep flock, I have some issue regarding the process of inspections for farmers.
"Under the terms and conditions there is a maximum of 48 hours notice for inspection and also the possibility of no notification of inspections. Notice of 48 hours is not sufficient for hill farmers to get sheep down off the mountains, especially during winter, when inclement weather can prevent farmers accessing extremely high peaks.
"There is also the issue of the timing of inspections and I believe that on-farm inspections should not be carried out during lambing time as the process of rounding up and penning can have a very negative impact on heavily pregnant ewes causing them stress and resulting in increasing complications at lambing and a higher percentage of stillborn lambs.
"I intend to raise these issues with the minister and to ask him to change the terms and conditions to allow for flexibility on inspections and to let inspectors to exercise common sense before deciding on the timing of inspections.”
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