Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has said that today’s announcement of Budget 2022 “protects family farm income”.

The estimates provide a gross allocation of €1.858 billion for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), an increase of €32 million on Budget 2021.

This is in addition to almost €1.2 billion in EU-funded direct payments received annually to support farm incomes and reward good agricultural and environmental practices, according to the DAFM.

McConalogue on family farm income

Speaking after the budget was announced in the Dáil today (Tuesday, October 12), Minister McConalogue said: “In a time of transition, farmers can have confidence that this budget protects farm family income and supports action to improve safety and sustainability on farms.

“We have succeeded in maintaining all of the crucial farm schemes and the budget provision will also allow us to provide additional funding for a number of policy priorities.”

According to the minister, key features of the budget include:

  • €872 million in funding for rural development and forestry supports, including more than €100 million in targeted supports for the beef and sheep sectors including BDGP, BEEP-S, Sheep Welfare Scheme and Dairy Calf Programme, and €80 million for on farm investments through TAMS including specific supports for solar energy installation;
  • €7 million for Enterprise Ireland capital investment schemes, to support the meat and dairy sector to invest in greater product and market diversification;
  • €4 million for the establishment of a Food Ombudsman’s Office;

He added that an innovative initiative to grant aid and support the planting of multi-species swards is also included.

Other elements include:

  • Ongoing access to flexible loan schemes through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland for farmers, fishers and food and drink SMEs;
  • €15 million for the continuation of the soil sampling scheme;
  • Extra €1.5 million to support the work of Animal Welfare Organisations;
  • Additional €2 million to support farm safety initiatives;
  • €21 million to support organic farming;
  • A tax package that protects the stamp duty relief for young, trained farmers, and stock relief.

Further funding is expected to be made available to the fisheries and agri-food sectors in 2022 through the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

Funding for organics

Commenting on the allocations to her areas of responsibility, Minister of State at the DAFM, Pippa Hackett said: “This budget supports nature-friendly farming practices and prioritises action on climate and biodiversity.

“In my own areas of responsibility, I am delighted to have secured a big increase in the budget for organic farming. Funding for this scheme has been increased to €21 million up from €16 million last year.

“Including other supports for the organic sector, this doubles the budget available for organics from when I took office less than two years ago. I know that many farmers are interested in making the transition – this will support them as they do so,” she added.

Farm safety

Budget 2022 has included additional measures to improve safety and reduce farm deaths and injury on Irish farms.

Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety, Martin Heydon, stated: “This is the first time a dedicated budget has been provided for specific farm safety initiatives aimed at reducing the rate of serious and fatal incidents on farms.

“I am determined to drive change of culture on our farms to make them safer places and this fund will be a huge role in these efforts. I also welcome the strong allocations of €153 million for Teagasc and €53 million for Bord Bia.”

McConalogue finalising CAP funding

Consultation of the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (CSP) is still underway.

Minister McConalogue has been visiting marts around the country to garner views from the agricultural sector on how the CAP funding should be spent in this country.

“I am also working closely with my colleague Minister [for Public Expenditure Michael] McGrath to finalise a financial package for the new CAP that will support the agri-food sector and rural communities in the period from 2023 to 2028. 

I hope to make a further announcement on this soon,” Minister McConalogue said.