Sheep producers in Northern Ireland have to apply for Covid-19 wool industry job support measures before August 12, Agriculture Minister Edwin Putz confirmed last week. This measure requires a one-time payment of 1.40 pounds (1.65 euros) for each eligible sheep.
The 1.2 million pounds (1.41 million euros) support fund is calculated based on the total loss of wool from the wool clip in 2019 and 2020 calculated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
This amount is divided by the number of breeding ewes and lambs/ewes placed in rams recorded in the 2019 sheep inventory job report. The aid payment is a contribution to the losses suffered by farmers due to market disruption through Covid-19.
There are other government support measures; the compensation rate for losses incurred is 80% to avoid excessive compensation for losses. After all, the actual numbers calculated for the plan are not really important here. But the principle behind Edwin Poots' decision to truly support wool is.
I see no reason why the Irish government cannot take similar steps. Irish wool prices floored last year at the height of the pandemic, and the farmers who took the brunt of all this were hill flock owners. These people had no lambs to sell last spring but still had to incur the cost of shearing their sheep.