To date over 4,200 farmers have applied for the Farm Safety Scheme and the huge level of interest has sparked calls for the scheme’s January 9 deadline to be extended.

IFA Rural Development Chairman, Flor McCarthy, made the call and is also asking the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, to immediately allow approvals to farmers who have applied for the Farm Safety Scheme to proceed with work.

Flor McCarthy said that this is necessary given the high level of interest and requirement for ongoing investment by farmers in carrying out work in making their farms safer. The closing date for the scheme is tomorrow, Friday 9th January, which the Minister should also extend given the huge interest in the scheme.

“By the close of the first tranche at the end of November last, 3,000 farmers had applied. These farmers must get early approval by the Department of Agriculture to proceed with work” the Rural Development Chairman said.

Flor McCarthy said with €12.5m available for the Farm Safety Scheme it was vital this funding which is part of the old Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 is fully utilised and that farmers are given ample time to complete their investment and draw down the 40% grant available.

Grant aid of 40% was made available to farmers under the new scheme, as announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

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