The Horticulture Exceptional Payment Scheme (HEPS) is now open for applications.

The scheme is set to deliver a combined €2.8m to eligible fruit and vegetable growers through a once-off payment in recognition of the impact to these sectors arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Department of Agriculture has stated that the targeting of glasshouse high-wire crops, mushrooms, field vegetables and apple growers was done in recognition of these being the horticultural sectors “most affected” by the invasion.

Payment rates have yet to be set and will depend on the numbers applying for funding. However, aid will not exceed €100,000 per beneficiary.

Payments to applicants growing high-wire crops, field vegetables or apples will be made on a 2022 cropped area basis while mushroom grower payments will be made on the basis of the weight of produce sold between 1 January and 30 April of this year.

Applications to the scheme, which is funded under the Department’s allocation of the EU’s crisis reserve fund, can be made until 17 June.

Eligibility and conditions

Some 48 field vegetables are eligible for payment under the scheme including onions, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and lettuce.

The high-wire glasshouse crops included in the scheme are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers. Apples destined for the dessert, culinary and processing markets are included in the apple crop category.

A number of eligibility conditions have been set including applicants having an annual turnover of €50,000 or more, being currently registered with the Department as a food business operator and having submitted a 2022 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application in the case of field vegetable applicants.

Those applying will have to submit their latest set of accounts as part of the application process.

A full list of terms and conditions, as well as the list of all field vegetables included in the scheme, can be found here and farmers have been asked to familiarise themselves with these conditions before making an application.

‘Significant challenges’

“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,” stated the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

“We are very proud of our domestic horticultural growers and we must ensure the long-term viability of the sector,” he said as the scheme was launched.

“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,” said Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett when opening the scheme.

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