A new €3m grant scheme is to help with the legal, advisory and financial services costs incurred by farmers in the drawing up of their farm partnership agreement.

Launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, the scheme is to cover some of the costs of farmers combining their enterprises, the Department says.

The Minister said that his Department has recently established a new Register of Farm Partnerships that will cater for partnerships across all of the main agriculture enterprises which follows on from the old Milk Production Partnership Register maintained by Teagasc.

The Department said that already there are more than 850 farm partnerships who have applied to be placed on the new register since it opened in April, with some 550 being former milk production partnerships.

The vast majority of the 300 new partnerships, crossing all enterprises, will be contacted in the coming weeks regarding this scheme and advised that it is open for application, it says.

The Minister said that he has long championed the concept of partnership in Irish agriculture, both at inter farm level and within the family farm.

“The benefits from such collaboration are well documented and include improved work/life balance; greater efficiency; addressing land mobility and, most importantly, facilitating smoother intergenerational succession,” he said.

Minister Coveney said that traditionally farm partnerships in Ireland were considered only for the dairy sector and the only form of collaborative arrangement was the farm partnership to the exclusion of other types.

“I am delighted through this scheme to be expanding the sectors for which partnerships are available to all aspects of Irish agriculture, including beef, sheep, tillage and horticulture.

“I am also committing to expanding in the near future the types of collaborative arrangements which can be funded to include shared farming or contract rearing in order to fully reflect the modern nature of Irish farming.

“This scheme is another example of the innovative use of our Rural Development Programme (RDP) and one which will make a valuable contribution to improving farm viability into the future,” he said.

The scheme, is to be funded under Ireland’s RDP and co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).