The possibility of reducing the minimum investment threshold of €2,000 to the Farm Safety Scheme is off the table following comments from the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney this week.

Asked in the Dail if he will reduce the investment threshold for the Farm Safety Scheme from €2,000 to €1,000 to encourage greater participation in the scheme by smaller farmers.

Minister Coveney said grant schemes have to operate above a certain threshold to ensure that they actually bring about change and incentivise a level of investment that would not otherwise take place.

He said the minimum investment threshold for the Safety Scheme has already been set quite low and to reduce it further would significantly dilute the impact value of the scheme.

The Farm Safety Scheme was opened for applications on October 22 and will remain open until January 9.

According to the Department interest in the Farm Safety Scheme has been very high with some 2,000 applications received to date.

Cattle handling facilities including mobile cattle crushes, weighing scales, calving gates as well as numerous more farmyard upgrades are part of the eligible items under the new farm safety scheme.

Grant aid of 40% is being made available to farmers under the new scheme, as announced in Budget 2015.

The Minister announced the measures as part of Budget 2015 as part of a targeted scheme to help farmers upgrade the standard of safety on their farms.

“I can’t think of anything that would have a higher priority than a loved one’s life and I would appeal to the farming community to look at this scheme carefully and examine the list of eligible investment items to address the safety issues identified. It is in all our interests and responsibility to raise the level of safety on our farms. It might just be the best investment ever carried out,” he said.