I thank Deputy Crowe for raising this issue. I also thank him for his advocacy in regard to the challenges facing farmers as a result of cost pressures, in particular his advocacy and representations on putting a scheme in place to support Clare farmers and farmers nationally in regard to growing fodder and preparing for the winter ahead.
As he will be aware, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I met with the main farm organisations and Teagasc on 8 March 2022 to discuss the impact of that illegal invasion on agriculture and supply chains. Following on from that meeting, I established the National Fodder and Food Security Committee and tasked it with preparing an industry response to the emerging crisis.
Following the first meeting of the committee, Teagasc issued advice to farmers on how to manage their farms during the current grass growing season, with a view to securing sufficient fodder for next winter. The committee, which encompasses all of the main farming organisations, has continued to monitor the situation, led by Professor Frank O'Mara and his team at Teagasc and under the chairmanship of Mark McGann. The advice it has given relates to applying sufficient fertiliser and how to minimise the cost impact while maximising grass output.
On 22 March, I announced a targeted intervention package, amounting to €12 million in funding, framed around three pillars to support Irish farming families. The tillage incentive scheme is a key anchor support mechanism of the package, delivering €400 per hectare for each additional hectare. The package also includes support for the sowing of multispecies sward and red clover silage. Subsequent to that, with the support of my Cabinet colleagues, I introduced a €1,000 support scheme for farmers to help to cover the cost of making silage or hay this year.
My key message to farmers is to make sure they maximise their capacity to grow grass and save silage and hay this year. Fortunately, it has been a good growing year so far. We must maximise that potential to ensure we are secure for next winter and spring. The €1,000 provision we are bringing to the table to support farmers in doing that came about in response to the representations from Deputy Cathal Crowe and many other Deputies. It is an important support. We must all work together to support our agrifood sector and farm families over the year ahead.