IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman James Murphy has encouraged sheep farmers to make an application for Grant Aid under the €8m Sheep Fencing and Handling Facilities Programme. He said 306 flock owners have applied to date under the scheme and the application for the first tranche amounting to €1.148m will close on January 31st.
James Murphy said IFA met senior officials in the Department of Agriculture this week on the scheme and again raised a number of issues regarding eligibility and selection criteria which are restricting applications. He said “It is ridiculous that planning permission is required for farmers replacing fencing in hill areas”.
James Murphy said “IFA is very concerned that the eligibility and selection criteria are too restrictive and preventing farmers from making application”. James Murphy also called on Teagasc to encourage and assist farmers with their applications. He said farmers have a difficulty with the fees Teagasc are charging for applications.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader told the Department it is essential that the processing of applications is completed promptly and efficiently and farmers should be cleared to commence work in March. He said “Department inspections should be kept to a minimum for a small scheme with limited resources”.
James Murphy pointed out that following the first tranche of applications, which will close at the end of January, there will be a further 12 tranches and application periods, every 3 months, valued at €571,000 each.
Based on initial analysis of applications received by the Department, the average grant aid being sought in the first tranche is approximately €2,400.
James Murphy pointed out the level of grant aid is 40% up to a maximum investment of €10,000.