€1m aid for pig farmers to be decided shortly – Department

The method of payment of the monies for the pig sector from the direct aid package is to be ‘decided shortly‘, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Of the overall package of €27.4m, the pig sector is to receive €1m.

The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney said that while this has been a difficult year for the dairy and pig sectors, he remains confident that the medium-term outlook is very positive.

Agriland reported yesterday that dairy farmers will be paid on a flat rate basis with each of the 18,000 dairy farmers in the country receiving approximately €1,350.

Additionally, the Minister announced that there will be an additional €800 top-up for young dairy farmers.

In September I presented a six-point plan to address the particularly acute situation in the dairy and pig sectors sector to the EU Commissioner and my EU ministerial colleagues.

“I was extremely pleased that the final decision at Council in September took significant account of Ireland’s requests,” the Minister said.

These requests included an improved Private Storage Aid (PSA) scheme for both Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP) and pigmeat which will include longer periods for storage as well as the improved aid rates, the Minister said.

It also included the re-introduction of PSA for cheese, a provision allowing 70% advance in the single farm payment, a provision of increased funding for promotion and the provision of almost €14m in targeted direct aid for farmers which can be matched nationally, he said.

These measures will certainly go some way towards alleviating the worst effects of the current market downturn, particularly from a cash-flow perspective.

“The disbursement of this payment is now the final piece of the implementation of this package,” the Minister said.

According to the Department, young farmers for this payment will be defined as dairy farmers who have successfully applied for the Young Farmer Scheme.

This top-up payment will be made in early 2016 when the scheme is finalised and €1m of the overall package will be reserved for the pig sector with the mechanism for disbursement of this element to be decided shortly, it said.

I have listened carefully to what the stakeholders have had to say and all have advocated for a flat rate payment.

“I am of the same view on the basis that it is the fairest method and one in which all farmers gain equally irrespective of size.

“It is our intention now to get these payments out to farmers before Christmas.

“It should be remembered that this payment comes on top of the 70% advance payment also agreed as part of this package and which has now delivered over €1 billion to farmers in the last two months,” he said.