Payments worth €300/ha under the €3m Protein Aid Scheme have started to issue, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has announced.

Some 850 farmers will receive payments under the 2021 scheme from Thursday 9 December.

Introduced in 2015, the scheme provides support for the growing of protein crops to counteract the dependence on imported protein for use in animal feeds.

The Minister said: “I am delighted to confirm that payments are now issuing under the 2021 Protein Aid Scheme.

"In 2021, €3m has been set aside for the Protein Aid Scheme, and payments are now commencing for the approximately 850 applicants."

New rate

A new rate of €300/ha has been announced by Minister McConalogue for 2021, with payments visible in farmers’ bank accounts in the coming days.

The Minister added: “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 source of protein for animal feed," he said.

Rising budget

The Minister announced that he has proposed to more than double the annual budget from €3m to €7m under the new CAP, which will commence in 2023.

Under the next CAP, the Department of Agriculture is targeting 20,000ha under the scheme, with a base support level of €350/ha for the single crops and €175/ha for the mixtures.