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The Fodder Support Scheme: What is it and how can I apply?

The 2023 Fodder Support Scheme

In what promises to be a very tight year for farmers, most of us will be trying to diversify our income as much as possible. For many of us, this means availing of whatever schemes are available to us.

In early November, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced the 2023 Fodder Support Scheme. While there might be a healthy amount of skepticism about many of these smaller Government schemes, this one is worth considering, particularly for drystock farmers.

A very healthy budget of €30 million has been allocated to the FSS, and the popularity of the scheme is not in doubt. This year’s iteration had 71,000 applicants, and that number is only likely to grow with an average payment of €735 on offer to participants. There may be some who can afford to scoff at that kind of money in a one-off payment; but for those of us trying to make ends meet it could make a massive difference.   

What is the Fodder Support Scheme?

In a nutshell, the Fodder Support Scheme is a payment aimed at incentivising farmers to grow more fodder. For obvious reasons, the scheme appears to be aimed primarily at drystock farmers.

Insufficient fodder has been a feature of recent winters on Irish farms, and the problem will be compounded by the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the spring. As most people are aware by now, Ukraine and Russia are two of the world’s largest producers of grain; so it is easy to forecast the knock-on effect of the ongoing conflict on the global fodder market this year.

Who is eligible to apply?

If you wish to be considered for the 2023 Fodder Support Scheme, you must have a valid 2022 Fodder Support Scheme application. Those who meet this key criterion must apply for the scheme at agfood.ie on or before 5th December 2022.

That means that time is running out for those who have not already made their applications.

Terms and conditions for application

When applying, you must agree to cut and conserve the declared piece of land for silage or hay production by 5th September 2023 at the latest. Furthermore, you must agree to the terms & conditions of the scheme, which includes your consent that failure to deliver on the stated fodder will result in the recoupment of some or all of the monies received from the scheme.

Participants in the scheme are also expected to submit a valid 2023 BISS application online by 10th June 2023. The Department emphasises that only grassland will be eligible for consideration on the scheme, and tillage land is considered ineligible.

Inspection

Not all participants will be subjected to inspection. Instead, approximately 5% of farmers receiving the payment will be inspected. An additional 3% of participants will be selected for administrative checks.  Only grassland parcels will be eligible. Tillage land is not eligible to receive support under this scheme.

For more information on the finer details of the application process for the FSS, we recommend that you visit the relevant page at gov.ie and read the terms and conditions.