The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced a scheme to support the horticulture sector which will be funded to the tune of €2.8 million.

The new Horticulture Exceptional Payment Scheme is funded through Ireland’s allocation for exceptional adjustment aid to producers in the agricultural and food production sectors.

The allocation of exceptional adjustment aid was announced by the European Commission on March 23 in response to rising food security concerns in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Commenting on the new scheme, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said: “The horticulture sector has been experiencing significant challenges recently and that is why I am delighted to announce this support for those most impacted in the sector.

“We are very proud of our domestic horticultural growers and we must ensure the long-term viability of the sector,” the minister added.

Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett said: “This support scheme will help to mitigate some of these impacts as well as sustain the viability of our horticultural growers who play a key role in producing safe, nutritious and local food in an environmentally sustainable manner.”

The scheme is now open for applications, and will close on June 17.

The department said that eligibility criteria and other key details will be laid out in the scheme terms and conditions, which the department will make available on its website along with the application form.

Payments to eligible growers under the scheme are expected to be made by September 30.

Irish food producers will be in line to receive around €15 million out of a €500 million fund announced by the European Commission in March.

Member states will have the option of co-financing this fund up to 200% of the allocation, which could potentially unlock over €45 million for Irish food producers if the government opts for maximum co-funding.

The commission says that support is needed for producers in sectors where input costs are “rising to unsustainable levels and where products cannot find their normal market outlet”.

Member states are being asked to design measures which contribute to food security or address market imbalances. The measures “should target farmers who are the hardest hit by the crisis”.