Sow Housing Scheme Closed

IRELAND - The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan has closed the 2007 Sow Housing (Animal Welfare) Scheme for new applications.
calendar icon 30 April 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

A total of €6 million had been allocated to the Scheme by the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme and now applications have reached the funding level.

The Minister stated that she closed the Scheme for new applications this week.

All applications received before the closing date of 25 April will be processed in the usual manner and approval to proceed with the investment works concerned will be issued to all eligible applicants who had submitted applications under the Scheme.

However, the closure of the scheme has come under fire from Irish pig farmers.

Irish Farmers' Association Pigs Committee Chairman Michael Maguire, said it was a further blow to the pig industry.

"This scheme has been closed early with the department stating that the monetary allocation has been fully subscribed, however some farmers through no fault of their own have been unable to apply for this grant aid," he said

"This grant which was for the conversion of breeding sow accommodation was introduced to assist pig producers to meet increased welfare standards laid down by the EU Commission."

Mr. Maguire added: "Minister Coughlan is fully aware of the plight that pig farmers find themselves in with the massive increases in feed prices. IFA have informed the Department of Agriculture on several occasions that pig farmers were finding it difficult to draw down capital investment loans to make necessary legislative improvements to their units for both the Nitrates Directive and the welfare legislation.

"I had expected maximum flexibility from the Department of Agriculture regarding applications for this scheme considering the current crisis in the industry. There was an initial two-year delay introducing the scheme by the DAFF. This delayed the conversion process to welfare housing when pig farmers were in a profit-making situation.

"The Department of Agriculture should have recognized that with pig farmers losing up to €25/pig it was of paramount importance that this scheme would be extended. However it is clear that due to negative returns from pigs, farmers will be forced to exit the industry rather than carry out these costly conversions," concluded Mr. Maguire.

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