The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has confirmed that the EU dairy aid package will be paid out before the end of the year.

The Department of Agriculture is now finalising details of the dairy aid package for farmers.

Speaking at the ICMSA annual conference in Co. Limerick on Friday (November 27), he said the value of the top up has yet to be decided.

“The size of the national top up has yet to be determined. But the Irish Government remains totally committed to supporting the farming and food sectors,” he said.

Back in September, in order to effectively address the existing market disturbance in the dairy sector, the European Commission deemed it appropriate to provide aid to Member States in the form of a one-time financial grant as part of its recent announcement on a package.

Ireland has been granted an allocation of €13.7m from an overall fund of €420m.

The relevant Commission Regulation, as revised at the request of Member States, including Ireland, provides scope for a national top-up of up to 100% to this EU payment.

Member States are afforded the flexibility to distribute this aid through the most effective channels at their disposal.

According to Minister Coveney a clear requirement of the provisions regarding this aid that the funds need to be distributed on the basis of objective and non-discriminatory criteria and also needs to ensure that farmers in the relevant sectors are the ultimate beneficiaries of the targeted aid.

Updating Fianna Fail Agriculture Spokesman Eamon O Cuiv on the status of the payment this week, the Minister said in conjunction with stakeholders, he have been considering how best to utilise these funds to support Irish farmers.

“I have discussed these matters with representatives of the dairy sector, most recently at the dairy forum.

“I took the opportunity to update stakeholders regarding progress to date and to seek their opinions regarding how best to distribute this aid.

“In addition my Department have also had discussions with representatives of the Irish pig sector.

“I am currently finalising consideration of various options and intend to announce final decisions regarding the aid levels and mechanisms in the very near future,” he said.

There are significant soundings within the dairy industry that the Irish Government will match the €13.7m EU dairy aid package – a move which could double the support that dairy farmers may receive.

He gave a firm indication to the committee that Ireland’s targeted support for dairy farmers will be distributed by means of a flat rate payment, with young farmers set to get a top-up.