Payments under the Protein Aid Scheme 2021 have begun, with €3 million set to be paid to tillage farmers, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced.

The minister said today (Thursday, December 9): “I am delighted to confirm that payments are now issuing under the Protein Aid Scheme. In 2021, €3 million has been set aside for the scheme and payments are now commencing for the approximately 850 applicants”.

The rate for this year has been set at €300/ha. Farmers will see payments in their bank accounts in the coming days, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said.

“The payment provided under this scheme is an important support for tillage farmers for the growing of protein crops, including beans, peas and lupins. These protein crops deliver a range of environmental benefits and reduce our reliance on imported sources of protein and animal feed.”

“I know the value of the Protein Aid Scheme to farmers and the environment. That is why I have proposed to more than double the annual budget from €3 million to €7 million under the next Common Agricultural Policy [CAP], which will commence in 2023,” the minister said.

The Protein Aid Scheme is a voluntary coupled support scheme funded by the EU. It was introduced in 2015 to provide support for the growing of protein crops to counteract the dependence on imported protein for use in animal feeds.

This announcement comes after payments runs were confirmed across a range of schemes in recent weeks.

Yesterday (Wednesday, December 8) it was confirmed that payments under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Sucklers (BEEP-S) have commenced.

In total, some €42 million has commenced issuing to over 30,000 participating farmers.

Minister McConalogue said yesterday: “The BEEP-S scheme helps to increase economic and environmental efficiency in the suckler herd though improvement in the quantity and quality of performance data collected, with a view to supporting the adoption of best practice and more informed decision making at farm level.”