Farmers and the wider agricultural sector will be closely monitoring next month’s budget to see what funds are allocated to the agricultural budget for 2022.
The European Commission approved transitional arrangements at the end of 2020 committing to providing funding until the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plan is introduced in 2023.
This essentially means that the Department of Agriculture do not need to go back to the Commission asking for permission to rollover existing schemes to 2022.
This funding needs to be allocated on an yearly basis in the annual budget framework
This permission was required for 2021, but the Department did not announce a two-year rollover of schemes because many schemes are co-financed with European Commission funding and therefore require National Exchequer funding.
This funding needs to be allocated on an yearly basis in the annual budget framework, hence the reason why all eyes will be watching this year’s budget.
Department of Agriculture sources indicate that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is confident that providing funding for the main schemes will be a formality.
The big-ticket items on the suckler side are the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme –Sucklers (BEEP-S), with these two schemes combined accounting for in excess of €80m.
Dairy farmers will be keen to see the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme funding of €80m for 2021 being made available for 2022. The injection in funds has allowed a backlog in applications to be cleared.
The Sheep Welfare Scheme is well received in the main by sheep farmers
Also, with uncertainty surrounding support for milking equipment in the proposed Capital Investment Scheme as part of the next CAP, dairy farmers who are planning developments in this area and who have not already hit the maximum investment ceiling will be eager to avail of support while it is available.
The Sheep Welfare Scheme is well received in the main by sheep farmers and it is almost certain that this will be rolled over in 2022, particularly when the scheme is being planned to be incorporated in the next CAP.
Sheep farmers are significant participants in the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).
The funding allocation is significant at over €200m in 2021, but given it supports almost 48,000 farmers and Minister McConalogue is keen to have an environmental scheme in place until the new major scheme, termed the Agricultural Environment Climate Measure, is introduced in 2023, it is very likely on the cards.
The Protein Aid Scheme has been in existence for a number of years at this stage and has relatively small annual budget of €3m
On the tillage front, the Straw Incorporation Measure (SIM) was introduced in 2021 with a funding allocation of €10m and has been broadly welcomed by the sector.
Discussions regarding the scheme point to the likelihood of it continuing in 2022 in generally the same format. The Protein Aid Scheme has been in existence for a number of years at this stage and has relatively small annual budget of €3m.
It is an essential scheme for supporting the growing of protein crops and will be on the agenda in 2022. It is also included in the next CAP Strategic Plan, where it could be expanded given the heightened discussions around reducing Ireland’s reliance on imported protein feeds.