The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Mr Joe Walsh TD, has defended his Department`s approach to the valuation of sheep culled on the Cooley Peninsula in the context of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak there. Minister Walsh explained that the policy of the Department, as provided for by law, is to pay the market value of animals culled for FMD reasons. Following representations from the IFA when the cull in Cooley was at an advanced stage, the Department had accepted that certain sheep farmers appeared to have a case for review of their initial valuations. The Department made a commitment that it would conduct such a review along lines which were generally understood. The basis of such a review was a perceived inequity in the valuations of flocks culled, particularly those dealt with early in the process relative to those culled at a later date.