Ag budget up 15pc to €1.5bn
Brexit team, €25m sheep scheme and cheaper credit in pipeline
Agriculture is set to receive a €200m boost to its €1.3bn budget today as improving national finances begin to filter down to individual government departments.
Staff numbers at the Department of Agriculture are set to rise from the current 1,633, for the first time since the embargo was introduced in 2008, with new teams being established specifically to deal with the fallout from the impending Brexit.
Bord Bia will be at the forefront of this marketing push, and has been allocated an additional 10pc on top of its €109m.
Farmers will also benefit from the increased allocations, with the well-flagged Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS)aiming to deliver €25m through a €10/ewe payment linked to farmers meeting a minimum number of animal welfare criteria. The SWS is expected to begin paying out to farmers before the end of 2017.
Tillage farmers will also get access to TAMS grants for the first time, with payments available for min-till equipment.
However, the final details on the exact shape of a credit scheme have gone down to the wire as Minister Michael Creed attempted to roll out a scheme that caters for the needs of not just hard-pressed dairy farmers, but also other livestock men and tillage growers that have struggled with the 2016 harvest.
With a new Teagasc survey of farmers along the western seaboard highlighting a fodder shortage on 50pc of farms and over 11,000ac of cereal crops still to be harvested, the Minister knows that there are many genuine hardship cases meriting special attention.