The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Navy has confirmed that farmers with “Category 1” land under the Natural Constraint Areas (ANC) program can begin applying for the support program to the fodder in the next few days.

The ministry said this afternoon (Monday June 20) that the online application system for the scheme is being updated to allow these farmers to apply.

The program originally opened for applications last Friday (June 17). Currently, ANC Category 1 land is displayed in the application system as ineligible.

The ministry said: “This land will now be eligible to apply when the applicant agrees to cut and retain silage and/or hay on this land by September 5.”

The September 5 deadline applies to all farmers in the program.

Updates to the application system will go live in the coming days to allow farmers on these lands to apply for the €56 million scheme, which will see farmers receive up to €100/ha of cut land and kept for silage or hay (up to a maximum of 10ha).

However, farmers with ANC Category 1 land are advised not to submit an application for the scheme until the department announces that the necessary updates to the online system have been made.

This will be communicated by SMS to farmers.

The deadline for applications from all farmers is August 2.

When details of the scheme were first announced last week, the department was criticized for excluding Category 1 land from the ANC.

It then emerged over the weekend that the department was looking at ways to include these farmers.

Farmers wishing to apply for the Fourragère Aid Scheme can do so themselves or through their adviser by connecting to the Exceptional Aid Scheme on the agri-food portal.

The scheme aims to incentivize farmers, particularly dry-livestock keepers, to grow more fodder (silage and/or hay) to ensure that Ireland does not experience a shortage of fodder over the coming winter and next spring.

The results of a recent survey conducted by Teagasc show that half of all dry cattle farmers did not apply chemical nitrogen (N) fertilizers to their silage soil.