Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has officially launched the Fodder Support Scheme worth €56 million.

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 fertiliser on their silage ground.

The budget for the Fodder Support Scheme is €56 million, with a payment rate of up to €100/ha. The scheme will be rolled out “as a matter of urgency”, according to Minister McConalogue.

Launching the measure today (Wednesday, June 15), he said: “Easing the burden on our farm families as a result of the disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine has been a key priority of mine.

“I am delighted to launch the Fodder Support Scheme today. This is a crucial scheme which will assist farmers to grow fodder stocks in the country to ensure we have adequate stocks for the winter ahead.”

The details of the scheme will be notified to the European Commission in accordance with the Temporary Crisis Framework (TCF), and approval of applications under the measure will be subject to commission decisions on the scheme.

The application system for the scheme will be go ‘live’ in the coming days and farmers wishing to apply can do so either themselves or through their advisor up to August 2.

Minister McConalogue stated: “I urge eligible farmers to apply on time and to ensure they read the terms and conditions of the scheme.”

As part of those conditions, the land area entered under the scheme must be cut and conserved by September 5.

Only farmers with grassland will be eligible to apply, though milk suppliers are excluded. Tillage land and areas classified as ‘Category 1’ under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme are not eligible.

The maximum area eligible for payment is 10ha per applicant, with a maximum payment of €1,000 (€100/ha). Payments will commence in late November once administrative and compliance procedures, as well as spot inspections, have been carried out.

All aid measures under the TCF are subject to a ‘standstill’ rule, meaning that no aid can be given before notification to, and approval from, the European Commission.