The closing date for applications under the new Horticulture Exceptional Payments Scheme (HEPS) has been extended by one week, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced.

The original closing date was set for midnight tomorrow (Friday, June 17). The scheme will now close at midnight of the following Friday (June 24).

The HEPS was opened for applications earlier this month, and aims to provide support in the form of a once-off payment to growers in the Irish horticulture sector, the department said.

The enterprises within the sector that are considered most at risk, and which can avail of funding under the scheme, include commercial growers in glasshouse high-wire crops, field vegetables, mushrooms and apples.

The scheme is funded to the tune of €2.8 million. Of that overall amount, the sub-sectors mentioned above will each be allocated a portion of funding as follows:

  • High-wire crops – €1,000,000;
  • Mushrooms – €600,000;
  • Field vegetables – €1,000,000;
  • Apples – €200,000.

The scheme is designed to “ensure the short-term security and thus the long-term viability of these sectors”, according to the department.

The scheme is funded through Ireland’s allocation for exceptional adjustment aid to producers in the agricultural and food production sectors.

The allocation of exceptional adjustment aid was announced by the European Commission on March 23 in response to rising food security concerns in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking when the scheme was opened on June 6, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said: “The horticulture sector has been experiencing significant challenges recently and that is why I am delighted to announce this support for those most impacted by the sector.

“We are very proud of our domestic growers and we must ensure the long-term viability of the sector,” he added.

Eligibility criteria and other key details are laid out in the scheme terms and conditions, which the department has made available on its website along with the application form.

Payments to eligible growers under the scheme are expected to be made by September 30.