Agriculture, Food and the Marine | To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which he and his Department continue to support the pigmeat industry, with a view to ensuring its growth and development particularly given the possibility of worldwide food shortages
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which he and his Department continue to support the pigmeat industry, with a view to ensuring its growth and development particularly given the possibility of worldwide food shortages; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The continued development of the pigmeat sector is a priority for the Government, given the pivotal role the industry plays in the national economic context. The sector supports approximately 8,000 jobs spanning production, slaughter, processing, feed manufacture and services. I am acutely aware of the challenges pig farmers are facing at present. I also acknowledge the role of Minister of State Martin Heydon in his role as chair of the Pig Roundtable.
In March, I announced the Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme (PEPS), with a fund of up to €7 million, for commercial pig farmers. Farmers were able to receive a payment of up to €20,000 per farmer. Over 80% of applications have since been processed for payment. The remaining applications are currently being processed.
On 13th April, I announced the Government’s approval for exceptional aid supports of €15.8 million for the pig and horticulture sector, which will be funded from Ireland’s envelope of EU exceptional adjustment aid under Commission delegated regulation 2022/467. The approval was for €13 million for the pig sector and €2.8 million for the horticulture sector.
Countries are required to notify the Commission of the measures to be taken before 30th June, and to pay the supports by 30th September 2022. My officials are developing the scheme at present in order to deliver a rapid as possible payment to farm families.
The financial schemes detailed above are part of a wider package of measures to support the pigmeat sector, including intensified efforts by Bord Bia to promote quality assured Irish pigmeat in the domestic and export markets, with dedicated media advertising campaigns underway nationally, as well as EU-funded pigmeat promotion programmes running in key export markets.
Teagasc has also intensified its dedicated, ongoing advisory supports being provided to pig farmers and is actively engaging with pig farmers to explore the options available to them.
This is period of considerable challenge for the agri-food sector as a whole. My Department continues to engage at EU level to ensure a joined-up EU approach to the challenges arising from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. The Department also continues to monitor the markets and any impacts on the agri-food sector.
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