The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has announced that approvals will issue this week to applicants under the new Calf Investment Scheme
The Minister confirmed that he has increased the scheme’s budget from the original €1.5m to €4m, to fully fund all eligible applications received. The scheme supports investments for calf rearing and welfare facilities and some 2,500 farmers will be directly funded under the scheme.
Minister Creed said: “The high application rate for this scheme is evidence of the strong commitment of Irish farmers to high standards of animal welfare. I am delighted to be in a position to fund every eligible application at the maximum grant rate. To do that, and against the background of the restrictions arising from COVID 19, I have increased the budget for the scheme from €1.5m to €4m. This represents a massive investment on Irish farms, and will further improve calf welfare and management. It is vital, especially in times such as these, that Ireland’s reputation in areas of animal health and welfare is not compromised, to ensure that the regard in which Irish Agri-food produce is held across the world in maintained.”
He also outlined some additional guidance during the coronavirus situation. This included the issuing of guidance to marts on a very limited range of essential services that comply with Government guidelines and do not require people to assemble. These included measures to facilitate calf sales and the weighing of livestock, and online or brokerage services, and are subject to the approval of Standard Operating Procedures by the department.
Currently, normal mart auction activity cannot resume until further notice. However, mart managers may consider some services to be essential. Within that overall framework, announced last week, and assuming that employers are a position to fully respect HSE guidelines in relation to physical distancing and other measures, it may be possible for mart owners to use their systems and facilities to put in place alternative trade facilitation mechanisms that would support the orderly sale of animals necessary to support the essential business of farming. This includes where the movement of animals is essential and in particular to maintain the food supply chain and protect the health and welfare of animals.
For the next two weeks routine departmental on-farm visits will not be taking place, unless required on a risk basis. Essential services, such as disease control or reactor removal will continue. This will be kept under review as the situation evolves. Some inspections such as under the ‘Young Farmer Scheme’ are being conducted by telephone.
Creed added: “The agri sector is essential in keeping food on Irish supermarket shelves at a time of unprecedented retail demand. I know that many food businesses have been badly affected by the loss of the food service markets, and my Department and agencies are available to support these businesses to re-orient their products towards the retail market. Irish food and drink exports are an essential part of complex food supply chains internationally, and now more than ever, quality, safe and nutritious Irish food needs to stay on supermarket shelves around the world. Trade is always a two-way street, and my Department is in touch with the authorities in the UK and Northern Ireland, as well as EU colleagues, on a regular basis, to discuss our shared interest in keeping food supplies moving.”