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.
It is understood that significant efforts are being made at both national and European levels on getting the Irish Exchequer to match EU package 100% level co-financing.
At the National Ploughing Championships, the Taoiseach is believed to have given strong indications to at least one farm organisation that he was supportive of the move.
And sources in Brussels have confirmed that the necessary steps were taken last week, from a legislative point of view, to ensure that national aid top-ups comply with EU regulations.
However, a potential obstacle still remains – whether the Department of Public Expenditure (which is already embroiled in negotiations with the Department of Agriculture over the payment of a €67m EU fine for land eligibility issues) will sign off on the matter.
Meanwhile, speaking at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD, gave the strongest signals to date as to how the EU aid package will be spent.
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.
Early estimates suggest that the €13.7m could worth €720 per individual dairy farmer, however, should the Government commit to 100% co-financing of the EU funds the payment to farmers could double to close to €1,400.