The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith, today confirmed that the €53 million Dairy Equipment and the Rainwater Harvesting Schemes will open for applications on Tuesday 1 March 2011.
Both schemes are provided for in Ireland's Rural Development Programme and are intended to remain open for applications until end-2013.
Under the terms of the Programme, €45 million is being made available for the Dairy Equipment Scheme with a further €8 million being provided for the Rainwater Harvesting Scheme. The schemes are part of a €113 million targeted scheme for on-farm investment to support a number of specific categories of farmers and focused on supporting productive investment. Under the terms of the Rural Development Programme, the Dairy Equipment Scheme will provide grant-aid for (i) milking machine equipment and (ii) milk storage and cooling equipment, at a standard grant-rate of 40 per cent up to a maximum grant level.
Minister Smith said that "the potential for growth in the dairy sector had been recognised in the Food Harvest 2020 report and that the Dairy Equipment Scheme would give practical support to the realisation of that potential. This scheme will be of particular benefit to young dairy farmers making the necessary investment to adjust to expanding dairy opportunities and will promote the operation of cost-effective commercial operations by young farmers."
The €8 million Rainwater Harvesting Scheme will also provide grant-aid at a standard grant-rate of 40 per cent up to a maximum grant level for the installation of rainwater collection tanks and ancillary items. The Minister said: "This scheme will reduce water costs on farms and I would urge those farmers who currently have a high level of water usage on their farms to examine closely the options for grant-aid which will be available under the Scheme."
Minister Smith said that today's announcement further underlined his commitment to ensuring ongoing on-farm investment and noted that these two schemes followed on from a number of other very successful on-farm investment schemes already launched, including those aimed at assisting the pig, poultry and sheep sectors.
Under the terms of both Schemes, selection criteria will be applied in order to determine those applications which will proceed to the approval stage. The Minister also advised farmers that it was a standard condition of all on-farm investment schemes that only work which commences after the date of issue of written approval by his Department is eligible for grant-aid.
Minister Smith also confirmed that applications for both schemes will be available of the Department's website at www.agriculture.gov.ie from 1 March 2011