The Department of Agriculture is seeking proposals on projects which can improve animal welfare and gender balance in farming through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) model.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett announced the open call which will see successful projects awarded funding of up €650,000 between three and five years.

Proposed operational groups which would oversee the projects can make an expression of interest on enhancing “innovation through a locally-led approach” on the two topics and those deemed to have the most potential will be asked to submit more detailed plans.

The call comes shortly after the largest EIP ever approved in the country – the €60m Farming for Water EIP which seeks to get 15,000 farmers on board to boost water quality – was opened to farmers.

Call for proposals

Another call for proposals will open later this year focused on environmental issues, such as soil health and biodiversity.

“This latest round of projects will cover animal health and welfare, and gender balance in farming in Ireland, two policy areas that are hugely important and that are rightly gaining increasing awareness in our sector,” Minister Hackett commented.

“EIPs have proven over the last number of years to be a great way to bring farmers and other stakeholders together, backed up with financial and administrative support, to develop new and innovative ways to tackle the many existing and emerging challenges faced by the agriculture sector.”

The minister stated that the Department’s commitment to the EIP model of delivering projects shows a commitment to trialling “new ways of farming” which can be woven into larger farm schemes.

“I look forward to a continuation of this positive engagement between farmers and the relevant stakeholders in this round of projects and indeed to a call later this year for a further round of EIP proposals,” she said.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue added that the Department is “investing significantly” in EIPs through CAP, stating that this approach has proven successful in the past.