Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has announced the opening of the €13m Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme 2 (PEPS 2) as farmers are set to be paid a one-off sum of up to €100,000 if all of the scheme’s conditions and eligibility criteria are met.
Pig farmers must have sent more than 200 pigs for slaughter, export or for sale to another commercial herd in 2021 to apply for the scheme, which is open only to those with an active herd number and herd owner status.
Farmers will only be permitted to nominate one herd on which to base their application, regardless of the number of herds or companies owned.
The main condition of the scheme requires those applying to reduce the number of breeding sows in their nominated herd by 10% relative to 2021’s numbers and declare this destocking to the Department prior to 31 December.
The smaller herd size must be maintained for four subsequent and consecutive months after the declaration is made.
The number of sows listed in the herd’s national pig census 2021 return will act as the base figure for destocking calculations and applicants must have returned a completed 2021 national pig census documentation to the Department’s pig ID section before 14 April for the Department to determine whether this condition has been met.
Those applying must remain pig farming until 30 April 2023
A series of other eligibility criteria and terms of conditionality have been set by the Department of Agriculture which applicants must meet to successfully claim payment.
Those applying must remain pig farming until 30 April 2023 to fulfil the conditionality terms and eligibility criteria of the scheme, which will close to applications on 11 July 2022.
The Department has stated that no late applications will be accepted.
Farmers must have completed a target advisory service for animal health (TASAH) pig healthcheck biosecurity review between 1 January 2021 and 11 July 2022 to be eligible for payment under the scheme.
The first inspection under the Department’s pig welfare inspection programme must also have been scheduled before 11 July 2022 and farmers are required to have scheduled a follow-up inspection in cases where herds have already been inspected and it was deemed that a follow-up was necessary.
Farmers considering applying who have yet to complete such inspections have been asked to contact their local regional veterinary office (RVO) directly.
Another scheme condition is for farmers to have been a member of the Bord Bia Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme (PQAS) at the time of application or to have undertaken to apply to be a member of the Bord Bia scheme before 30 August this year.
The herds applying to the scheme must have kept quarterly reporting of antimicrobial usage to the Department up to date for 2020, 2021 and Q1 2022 before 11 July.
Speaking as the scheme was being opened, Minister McConalogue commented on the resilience of the sector at a time of enormous challenge, as farmers are faced with continued negative margins for the foreseeable future.
An unprecedented rise in feed costs has left farmers struggling to maintain cashflow, with pigmeat prices not currently covering most farmers’ feed costs.
“As I have consistently stated, our pig farmers are remarkably resilient, but I am acutely aware of the unprecedented challenges they are facing at present,” stated Minister McConalogue.
“Irish pig farmers, alongside others across the EU, are currently facing a combination of low prices and extraordinarily high input costs.
“This is why I have targeted €13m of the €15.8m EU exceptional aid allocation to support the viability of this important sector.
“The scheme will assist pig farmers to make the necessary adjustment to the new market situation and support them as much as possible through this period of major disruption,” he said.
Package of measures
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon stated that the scheme was another measure in the series of commitments of his department to support the pig sector through its current crisis.
Minister Heydon, who chairs the pig roundtable stakeholder group, commented that other measures taken by the Government to ease the sector’s burden included the promotion of pork and backing further advisory supports for farmers.
“This scheme is part of a package of measures to support the sector, including the finance instruments co-funded by my department through SBCI, intensified efforts by Bord Bia to promote quality assured Irish pigmeat in the domestic and export markets, and Teagasc dedicated, ongoing advisory supports,” he said.
A full list of terms and conditions can be found here.