Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Department of Agriculture and Food
Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the recent widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009 I announced the introduction of the fodder aid scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection.
I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment. I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December and, to date, payments worth €504,074 have issued to 237 applicants. Payments continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible.
My Department introduced a pilot bioenergy scheme in 2007 to grant aid the cultivation of miscanthus and willow crops to produce feedstock for use in the bioenergy market. The maximum grant available to miscanthus growers is €1,450 per hectare (€587.04/acre) up to a ceiling of 30 hectares per applicant. The average payment made to miscanthus growers under the scheme was €9,800. In addition to establishment grants, areas planted with miscanthus also qualify for the single farm payment.