Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has announced that Budget 2024 will provide over €700 million in funding for agri-environment initiatives. In addition, there will be over €100 million in supports for the beef and sheep sectors, with payments of €200 per cow and €20 per ewe secured. The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) will also offer a 70% grant rate for new slurry tanks for those importing slurry. A separate TAMS investment ceiling for slurry storage tanks has been introduced, along with continued accelerated capital allowances for slurry storage.
Minister McConalogue has further outlined several supports for the agricultural sector. These include €8 million in targeted support for tillage farmers, key agri-taxation supports, and land leasing targeted at active farmers. The Agri-Environmental Climate Scheme (ACRES) will be expanded to accommodate the full 50,000 participants promised under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan (CSP). There will also be schemes for soil sampling and multi-species swards, a €57 million allocation to support organic farmers, and €110 million in funding for the Forestry Programme. Other initiatives include a €6.5 million dairy beef scheme, €5 million for the genotyping programme, €8 million for capital investment in the food sector, and €14.35 million to support the National Strategy for Horticulture. Research and development funding of over €22 million will be provided, along with continued support for state agencies in the agri-food and fisheries sectors.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has received a total budget of €1.942 billion, with a focus on protecting farm incomes. Minister McConalogue emphasized that the funding supports the sector’s environmental goals and on-farm sustainability while also ensuring farmer incomes are supported. He stated that Budget 2024 aligns with the targeted supports for farmers outlined in the €10 billion CAP Strategic Plan.
The minister highlighted the commitment to beef and sheep farmers, announcing targeted supports of over €113 million for the livestock sectors. The €200 per cow payment will continue in 2024, and an additional payment will be provided for sheep farmers, resulting in a payment equivalent to €20 per ewe. This will be the highest payment ever provided to the sheep sector.
It is important to note that the 2024 budget figure for DAFM has been adjusted to account for the discontinuation of over €240 million in Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) funding. The expenditure deadline for BAR funding is December 2023. While the BAR funding primarily supported the fisheries sector, it also contributed to the genotyping programme and the National Beef Welfare Scheme in 2023, which will now be continued using national funding.