Here's five farming schemes that farmers should consider applying for
1. €10/ewe sheep scheme
The Department of Agriculture hope to open its new Sheep Welfare Scheme early next year.
It will be based on the animal welfare measure in the Rural Development Programme, which allows for a payment per head.
Sheep farmers will have nine different options in total and it is proposed they will be divided into two categories, with farmers required to choose an option from each category.
€10 per ewe scheme is a very positive development for the sheep sector and he welcomed the recent announcement in the Budget by Agriculture Minister Creed providing €25m funding for the scheme. He said the next step is to finalise the arrangements on the scheme with the EU Commission in Brussels.
It is expected the scheme will be finalised before year-end, clearing the way for an early application.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) recently announced a €150m Cash Flow Support Fund for Farmers that will support highly flexible loans for up to six years, for amounts up to €150,000, at an interest rate of 2.95pc; and will be available to livestock, tillage and horticulture farmers.
The Fund is supported by €11m of EU Exceptional Adjustment Aid and further funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, under a derogation from state aid regulations that ordinarily apply to the agriculture sector.
This measure will enable farmers to improve the management of their cash flow and reduce the cost of their short-term borrowings so they can continue to trade during the current period of commodity price volatility.
The introduction of a specific scheme of investments for tillage farmers is included in a formal amendment to the Rural Development Programme proposed by the Department of Agriculture.
The detail of this proposal is currently under negotiation with the European Commission.
The investment items that have been considered for approval by the Commission include:
Precision farming equipment
Grain storage equipment
Low disturbance tillage equipment
Rainwater harvesting and storage
Grant aid is already available to assist tillage farmers under the existing TAMS II schemes in respect of, for example, the construction of nutrient storage facilities and storage facilities for other farmyard manures, soiled water and related facilities as well as farm-safety investments such as sliding/rolling doors and farmyard lighting.
4. GLAS 3
In recent weeks the Minister for Agriculture announced the opening of the third tranche of GLAS. Over the next few months approximately 12,000 farmers will be accepted into the scheme.
GLAS offers a maximum payment of €5,000 per year to participants to commit to carrying out a GLAS plan of actions. Some farmers undertaking particularly challenging actions may qualify for GLAS+ which provides a top-up payment of up to €2,000 per year.
For the third and final tranche of GLAS, a small number of adjustments are being made to the actions available under the second tranche. Some, will make it easier for farmers to adapt to the new regimes required, and will encourage greater uptake of measures. Others respond to the fact that we have achieved or exceeded targets in some areas.
Farmers must commit to a GLAS plan for a minimum of five years.
The Third Tranche of GLAS opened in November 2016
5. Horticulture investments
The 2017 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Commercial Horticulture Sector has opened to applications.
The competitive grant aid scheme is open to all horticultural sectors – protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruit, apples, beekeeping and mushrooms.
Jim Rooney and Gavin Weldon manager of the team of contractors E Finnegan & Sons, Navan, Co Meath harvesting potatoes in Clonmelsh, Co Carlow.
It provides grant aid, at a rate of 40pc (50pc for young farmers), for approved capital investments undertaken by 29 September 2017. In certain limited cases, funding may be approved for investments that will be completed and claimed by 28 September 2018.
The closing date for receipt of applications is 16 December 2016.