The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that farmers with ‘category 1’ land under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme can begin applying for the Fodder Support Scheme in the coming days.

The department said this afternoon (Monday, June 20) that the online application system for the scheme is currently being updated to allow these farmers apply.

The scheme initially opened for applications last Friday (June 17). At present, ANC category 1 land is being displayed on the applications system as ineligible.

The department said: “This land will now be eligible to apply where the applicant commits to cut and conserve silage and/or hay on this land by September 5.”

The September 5 deadline applies to all farmers in the scheme.

Updates to the application system will go live within the coming days to allow farmers on this land apply for the €56 million scheme, which will see farmers receive up to €100/ha of land cut and conserved for silage or hay (up to a maximum of 10ha).

However, farmers with ANC category 1 land are advised not to submit an application for the scheme until the department announces that the necessary updates to the online system have been made.

This will be communicated by text message to farmers.

The closing date for applications from all farmers is August 2.

When the details of the scheme were first announced last week, the department came under fire for excluding ANC category 1 land.

It then emerged over the weekend that the department was looking at ways to include these farmers.

Farmers wishing to apply for the Fodder Support Scheme can do so either themselves or through their advisor by logging on to the Exceptional Aid System on the agfood portal.

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.