Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has announced that payments have commenced issuing to 1,350 farmers under the Protein Aid Scheme.
The rate for this year has been set at €583/ha for beans, peas, lupins and soya, with a half rate payment of €291.50/ha for the protein cereal mix.
The payments are worth €8.5m to farmers and the scheme supports tillage farmers to establish nitrogen-fixing crops, which are of huge environmental benefit.
“I am glad to confirm that payments totalling €8.5m have commenced issuing under the 2023 Protein Aid Scheme and will be visible in farmers' bank accounts in the coming days.
“The payment provided under this scheme is an important support for tillage farmers for the growing of protein crops, including beans, peas, lupins and the protein cereal mix crop.
"These protein crops deliver a range of environmental benefits in addition to reducing our reliance on imported sources of protein for animal feed.
“In recognition of these benefits, funding under the Protein Aid Scheme was more than doubled in the current CAP strategic plan to provide an increased budget of €35m over the lifetime of the plan.”
The Protein Aid Scheme has proven extremely popular with tillage farmers in 2023, the Minister said, seeing a 50% increase in the total hectares sown to protein crops over previous years.
“As a result, I have provided an additional €3m in funding above the already increased annual budget of €7m, bringing the total protein aid budget in 2023 to €10m.”
Payments will continue to issue to the tillage sector via the Tillage Incentive Scheme and the Straw Incorporation Measure, which are due to commence issuing payments in the coming week.
The Department said that it may take up to five days for payments to reach accounts.