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Minister Coveney announces improvements to terms of Sow Welfare Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced that a revised Sow Welfare Scheme would be opened at the beginning of next month in order to further assist the pig sector in Ireland to comply with the new EU animal welfare rules which come into effect at the beginning of next year.

The Minister stated that as a fully compliant pig sector was an essential regulatory and competitive requirement with effect from 1 January 2013, he was providing a further financial stimulus to ensure that pig farmers who were not yet compliant would be able to meet the new requirements by the end of the year. The Minister accordingly announced that he is increasing the current investment ceiling of €300,000 per holding to €500,000 per applicant for the first sow house, with further amounts of €300,000 for each of the next three houses. The grant-rate would remain unchanged at 40 per cent. Sow houses which had already been grant-aided under the current Rural Development Programme, i.e. under the 2007 Sow Welfare Scheme and the original TAMS Scheme, would, however be taken into account for this purpose.

Applicants who had not commenced work in relation to an existing grant application would be entitled to cancel those applications and re-submit an application under the new Scheme, the Minister confirmed. As a sum of €4 million had already been committed under the original TAMS Scheme, the Minister stated that the remaining €9m of the €13m in total which is provided for the scheme in accordance with the Rural Development Programme would be available under this revised Scheme. Selection criteria would be applied in order to determine those applications which will proceed to the approval process in any particular tranche.

The Minister also stated "I am aware of the pressing need on the part of some farmers to commence work immediately. The first tranche under the revised Scheme will therefore exceptionally close on 16 July 2012."

The closing date for receipt of applications under the revised Scheme will be end-October 2012 and the final date for completion of works under the Scheme and the submission of a payment claim will be end-September 2013. The Minister stated that such an extension had already been provided in the case of the recent Poultry Welfare Scheme. However, as in the case of that Scheme, it did not mean that farmers could ignore the entry into force of the new EU animal welfare rules with effect from 1 January 2013. It merely meant that farmers who completed the investment works after that date could continue to receive grant-aid under the Scheme. The Minister also confirmed that similar extensions will be provided to farmers who are completing investment works under the original TAMS Scheme.

The Minister confirmed that the revised terms and conditions, and accompanying application form, would be available on his Department’s website with effect from Monday, 2 July 2012.

Date Released: 27 June 2012