Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity with special responsibility for Horticulture, Pippa Hackett, announced the distribution of the funds allocated under the EU Agricultural Reserve to support the tillage and horticulture sectors.
The Minister outlined, “I specifically requested support from the EU Agriculture Reserve fund for the tillage and horticulture sectors in light of the significant challenges being faced in 2023. The supports are funded from Ireland’s allocation under the EU Agricultural Reserve which provides for emergency financial support for agricultural sectors affected by specific problems impacting on the economic viability of agricultural producers.”
“Following our application to the fund, I am happy to confirm how these funds will be distributed across the tillage and horticulture sectors. Profitability across these sectors in 2023 has been eroded by particularly challenging weather conditions which affected crop yields, reduced output prices and the continued high costs of production. The overall package of €7.148 million for the tillage sector and €2.383 million for the horticulture sector will support growers in these strategically important sectors.”
For tillage growers, a flat rate payment of €28 per hectare will be made on the area of oilseed rape, winter and spring oats, barley, wheat and rye declared under the Basic Income Support for Sustainability Scheme (BISS) in 2023. The minimum area for payment will be 5 hectares and payments will be capped at 100 hectares per grower. It is expected that the payments will be made in January 2024.
Minister McConalogue continued, “I have strongly supported the tillage sector throughout 2022 and 2023. I doubled the annual budget for the Protein Aid Scheme from €3m to €7m and the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) resulted in payments of almost €11M to scheme applicants last year. In response to harvest difficulties this year and following on from ensuring that the upgraded annual €10M Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM) became a permanent part of the CAP Strategic Plan (CSP), I also announced €7m in additional funding for SIM to ensure support for all applicants in 2023.”
The horticulture subsectors included under this support package include high-wire glasshouse grown tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, brown mushrooms, field vegetables (excluding potatoes) and field grown salad crops, energy reliant protected crops (heated strawberries and vertically grown greens) and apples. The support package will help to ensure the short-term security and thus the long-term viability of growers in these subsectors.
For the horticulture sub-sectors, applications will open shortly for processing and payments will be made in January 2024. Eligible applicants will be paid based on the number of hectares in production and in the case of mushrooms, growers will be paid on the weight (kgs) of mushrooms sold. Caps on payments per grower will be applied should the scheme be oversubscribed. Horticulture growers must have a turnover of €50,000 or more and a minimum of 3 hectares in production (field vegetables only) to be eligible to apply and will need to provide production data as part of their application for support.
Minister Hackett added, “the Government is committed to delivering on its promise to support the horticulture sector. We recognise that the recently published National Horticulture Strategy highlights the need for a strong and solid foundation from which to grow the horticulture industry, and this financial support package is critical in ensuring the ongoing economic viability of the sector and ensuring its future during difficult times.”