By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
HomeA-Z IndexSubscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

The delivery of essential services to farmers, fishermen and the food and forestry sectors has been prioritised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout the course of the pandemic; including services such as export certification, scheme payments, and protocols to allow mart services to continue on a limited and controlled basis.

Following a campaign by Member States, spear-headed by Ireland, the European Commission introduced a scheme of aids to private storage under the CAP for certain dairy products, and certain beef and sheepmeat cuts.

Minister Creed announced a €50 million package to provide a support scheme for beef finishing farms which have been severely impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. DAFM will be engaging in consultation with stakeholders in relation to the detailed terms and conditions of the scheme to be developed, which must also submitted to the EU for state aid approval under the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework. This additional financial support is part of ongoing efforts to ensure that all the appropriate support measures are put in place at national and EU level for the farming communities.

In May, the Minister announced the Covid-19 voluntary Temporary Fleet Tie-up Scheme for fishing vessels, to be implemented under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme 2014-20.

Farming specific supports available include: an increase in the budget for the Calf Investment Scheme to €4 million; bringing forward of balancing payments under GLAS and the Organic Scheme; and various practical flexibilities for applications for the main farm schemes.

Farmers, fishers and food businesses will also benefit from access to the Government’s liquidity and investment responses to Covid-19 impacts, including the expansion of the Future Growth Loan Scheme for capital investment and Microfinance Ireland loans for working capital. While the banks have extended their payment break from three months to six months for those directly impacted by Covid-19, the Government has announced an expanded Credit Guarantee Schemes, which will support working capital lending to SMEs, including farmers and fishers.

In addition, food businesses are eligible for the Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme, as well as Enterprise Ireland supports to maintain business continuity and liquidity, and Bord Bia supports to accelerate eCommerce and expand marketing activities.

The Department has a range of on-line facilities and can provide information to clients over the phone or by email. Public offices are closed for the present. There is a new information line to assist farmers with their queries in relation to current Covid-19 restrictions in place. The number is 076 1064468 and will be open from 9.30am to 12.30 pm and from 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will continue to monitor the situation and is following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health and the HSE in relation to COVID-19. We would remind stakeholders that they should continue to follow the advice being given by the HSE. In particular: only leave home where absolutely necessary; wash your hands regularly; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough and sneeze; keep a social distance etc. Please keep up-to-date with the HSE website

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html for further information.

As always, farmers should remember to observe basic biosecurity protocols and safety rules when working on the farm.

AGRICULTURAL AND FISHERIES SUPPORTS

The delivery of essential services to farmers, fishermen and the food and forestry sectors is being prioritised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout the course of the pandemic. Farming, fisheries, forestry, food and beverage production, and ancillary services, have been designated as essential services in the context of the current public health emergency.

Necessary steps have been taken to ensure:

  • that producers and processors can continue to operate effectively and keep supply lines open; and
  • that the Department can operate as effectively as possible and in particular to retain capacity and capability to respond to any animal health, animal welfare, plant health or food safety emergency.

In the longer term, there may be significant economic impacts for Irish business, including the agri-food sector, arising from reduced demand in key markets around the world. A range of supports for businesses have already been announced by the Government and is available at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/ , including the SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme, which is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This loan scheme will make working capital available to impacted SMEs, including food businesses.

Farmers and fishermen, along with other workers who are required to self-isolate, or are diagnosed with Covid-19, may be eligible for social welfare support. See: https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/973806-covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-employers-and-employees/

Critical Measures

  • Keeping food and other processing facilities operational has been a priority. This keeps the supply chain moving, ensures that farmers and fishers have an outlet for their produce, and maintains economic activity in the rural economy;
  • The Department has agreed protocols to allow marts to continue to operate, albeit on a limited and controlled basis, so that sales could continue, and is working to finalise further protocols to allow a further extension of mart services in accordance with the Government roadmap (8th June);
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has increased budget for the Calf Investment Scheme from €1.5m to €4.0m, to ensure that farmers have facilities to care for extra calves on farm;
  • An additional €20m was made available in supports for the suckler beef sector in Budget 2020. More than 15,000 applications have been received to date;
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine brought forward GLAS balancing payments worth €26m by a month, to provide vital cashflow to 42,300 farmers;
  • Measures for handling scheme applications and payment processing to take account of movement restrictions and flexibilities have provided at EU level to ensure payments can be delivered on time. At this stage, more than 97,000 applications have been received by the Department for the Basic Payment Scheme and this is about 7,000 ahead of this time last year;
  • Following an initiative at EU level led by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the EU Commission has provided €76 million across all Member States for Aids to Private Storage for Dairy, Beef and Sheep Meat. This will provide EU support for the storage of product that cannot be put on the market because of the collapse of food service and hospitality outlets;
  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is in ongoing discussions with the European Commission about the need for the deployment of further Common Agricultural Policy support measures;
  • In relation to fishing, the EU Council & Parliament have now adopted a Commission proposal to allow additional flexibilities in the spending of Member States existing European and Maritime Fisheries Fund allocations, to address the specific Covid related challenges in the Fisheries & Aquaculture sectors;

A temporary voluntary fleet tie-up scheme for fishing vessels in the Polyvalent, Beam Trawl and Specific segments of the fishing fleet. Eligible vessels will be supported to voluntarily opt to tie up for one or two of the next three months, operational from 1st June 2020 and availability will be extended to the inshore fleet and to larger vessels.  The Scheme will be implemented under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme 2014-20, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union;

  • Supports for the seafood sector are also in place for fishermen, seafood processors and aquaculture farmers in terms of capital investment, business advisory services and marketing supports;
  • Many of the horizontal supports available to individuals/businesses are available to the agri-food sector, including:
  • the Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme –food SME’s and mid caps are eligible for competitive working capital loans under this scheme;
  • the Future Growth Loan Scheme provides long term investment capital, including for farmers, fishers, and food SMEs;
  • Microfinance Ireland provides a working capital option to Farmers, fishers and food businesses;
  • The expanded Credit Guarantee Scheme, which was announced by the Minister for Finance over the weekend, forms a major component of the Government’s strategy to aid SMEs in these difficult times and will also be available to provide credit support to farmers and fishers;
  • Bord Bia has provided an additional €1m Covid-19 Response Marketing Package for food businesses to accelerate eCommerce and expand marketing activities;  
  • Teagasc is setting up a Regional Farm Labour Database that would link farm families where a farmer or a farm worker becomes ill with COVID-19, with an available relief worker. This is being done in collaboration with the Farm Relief Services (FRS), and with the support of the farm organisations IFA and ICMSA;
  • Teagasc, in coordination with DAFM and DEASP, has provided a platform for horticulture producers to advertise seasonal job opportunities to those on the live register;
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has established a dedicated Covid-19 information line is in operation along with an up-to-date list of Frequently Asked Questions is maintained on the Department’s website to assist customers.

Other government supports COVID 19 

For more information, here are some helpful links:

World Health Organisation (WHO):

Health Service Executive (HSE):

Health Protection Surveillance Centre:

Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine statement 13/03/20

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Department of Social Protection and Family Affairs

Taoiseach's National Address 17/03/20:

Department PR on Meeting with Stakeholders from Fishing Industry