The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has today (Friday, June 17) announced that the online application system for the Fodder Support Scheme is now open for applications.

Farmers wishing to apply for the Fodder Support Scheme can do so either themselves or through their advisor up to August 2, 2022 by logging on to the Exceptional Aid System the agfood website.

This follows up on agriculture minister, Charlie McConalogue’s, announcement on Wednesday (June 15) that the government had approved the scheme.

Fodder support scheme

The scheme aims to incentivise farmers, in particular drystock farmers, to grow more fodder (silage and/or hay) to ensure Ireland does not have a shortage of fodder over the coming winter and next spring.

Recent survey results by Teagasc show that half of all drystock farmers have spread no chemical nitrogen (N) fertiliser on their silage ground.

The budget for the Fodder Support Scheme is €56 million and the payment rate will be up to €100/ha, up to a maximum of 10ha with the maximum potential payment of up to €1,000.

As part of those conditions, the land area entered under the scheme must be cut and conserved by September 5.

Payments will commence in late November once administrative and compliance procedures, as well as spot inspections, have been carried out.

Further terms and conditions of the scheme are now available on the DAFM website.

Farmer reaction

There has been a mixed reaction to the announcement of the Fodder Support Scheme from farm organisations.

Both the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) issued responses to the scheme, with the former welcoming it but calling for further measures on input costs and the inclusion of hill farmers, and the latter sharply criticising the scheme for excluding dairy farmers.

The Irish Natura Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has also called for the scheme to be reviewed.

The association has claimed that a decision to exclude ‘Category 1 land’ under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme will result in up to 30,000 drystock farmers being excluded.