The commencement of the 15% balancing payments to all eligible farmers under year one (2023) of the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS) has been announced by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

The roll-out of these balancing payments brings the total amount paid to over 17,020 farmers under the SIS for 2023 to €21.33m, providing a significant financial boost to the individual farmers, the sheep sector in general and the wider rural economy.

The 85% advance payment issued to eligible farmers in November 2023.

“The issuing of this €2.17m in SIS balancing payments is an important support to sheep farmers, providing a financial boost to the individual farmers themselves and the wider rural economy,” the Minister said.

“A further 286 new entrants joined the SIS earlier this year, bringing total participation in the scheme now to 18,940.

"Between the support I have provided under the SIS and [the] National Sheep Welfare Scheme, €20 per ewe is available to sheep farmers in 2024, the highest payment ever made to this important sector.”

Outstanding queries

The Minister urged any farmers with outstanding queries to respond to the Department’s sheep section immediately to facilitate payment and confirmed that the Department will continue to issue payments on an ongoing basis as outstanding queries are resolved.

He also reminded and urged participants to take due care and time in carrying out the actions they have selected under both the SIS and the National Sheep Welfare Scheme in 2024 and to accurately record them within the action record sheets provided by the Department.