The sheep-farming sector has been hard-hit over the last ten years by a series of crises affecting the ruminant livestock sector. Two statistics tell the story: the total number of small ruminants fell by 7.6% in the EU as a whole in the period from 2000 to 2006; and if no action is taken, sheep and goat production could decline by over 25% by 2015. That is why I decided to table two amendments to the budget headings in the general budget for 2009 relating to sheep and goat premiums and to the additional premiums for producers of sheep meat or goat meat in less-favoured or mountain areas (increasing them by €20 and €15 million respectively). The Council, when voting on the second reading of the draft budget for 2009, decided to reject my proposal. Would the Council publicly state its reasons for rejecting this proposal at a time when it is proving possible to renegotiate all the rules (on VAT, the Stability Pact, revision of the FP, etc) in order to save the banks?