Payments under the direct aid package for the dairy and pig sectors are now issuing to farmers, the Department has confirmed. In the dairy sector, the payments are a €1,000 top-up to almost 1,500 young farmers who were successful applicants under the Department’s Young Farmer Scheme, complementing the payments to over 17,600 farmers in December. In the pig sector, there are almost 300 approved applications for aid. Payments of €3,300 to each participant have commenced this week.

“The current market difficulties are more prolonged than anybody envisaged and it’s important that any measures taken are meaningful for producers in difficulty,” said the newly appointed Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. “Today’s payments mark Ireland out as one of the few EU member states to have drawn down their allocation to date and together with the Government’s top-up will provide some practical assistance to farmers.”

The payments are the final tranche under the package agreed at EU level in September of last year, which allocated €13.7m for Ireland. This was matched by the Government to provide an overall aid package of €27.4m.

Five=year rule

Macra na Feirme welcomed the top-up to young dairy farmers made in addition to the flat rate payment all dairy farmers received late last year. However, the organisation said it is disappointed that the top-up was not paid to all dairy farmers under the age of 40.

“This top-up payment is very welcomed and we thank Minister Coveney for securing it,” said Macra president Sean Finan. “However, we are disappointed that the Minister chose to implement the five-year rule for this payment. The five-year rule has again precluded young farmers who are beyond five years farming, but still young farmers, from receiving this top-up.”