Confusion has emerged surrounding the oversubscribed National Liming Programme, which has been introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) to incentivise the use of lime, due to a delay in the issuing of approval letters.
The measure aims to provide a financial contribution to participating farmers per tonne of calcium ground limestone/magnesium ground limestone applied.
The Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, has yet to issue letters of approval to successful applicants confirming the tonnage approved, following an assessment of all applications.
In May 2023, the DAFM issued a statement outlining that due to “unprecedented” demand for the 2023 €8 million National Liming Programme, in line with its terms and conditions, it will have to limit approvals to stay within the allocated budget for the programme.
The scheme’s terms and conditions state that “in the event of eligible applications being received in excess of the available budget, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine may implement a reduction coefficient to determine the tonnage of ground limestone approved for each applicant as appropriate”.
Farmers, according to a DAFM spokesperson, have shown “huge” interest in the new programme, with 4.5m tonnes sought by 41,000 farmers before the programme’s deadline on April 20th, 2023.
With support in respect of over 4.5m tonnes of lime sought, the average tonnage sought per applicant under the programme is just over 111 tonnes.
At a rate of €16/tonne, this would require a budget of more than €72m if all lime sought were approved and claimed by farmers.
Annual tonnage of lime applied nationally in recent years, including on those farms ineligible under the scheme, has ranged from 700,000 tons to 1.3 million tonnes.
Previously, Minister McConalogue confirmed that every farmer who applied for the once-off Ukraine-funded measure from the national exchequer, would be approved for a certain amount of lime.
Can I apply lime without an approval letter?
Ag advisors have informed That’s Farming about farmers’ concerns over the scheme.
That’s Farming has seen correspondence that the DAFM has circulated to some ag advisors in relation to the matter.
It has outlined that it is “currently still waiting to make a final decision before sending out our approval letters”.
“We are hoping it will now be within the next couple of weeks.”
“If the person has applied to the scheme, then they can go ahead and spread the lime when they wish.”
“I know some farmers have been onto us who are anxious to spread the lime and are not aware they can,” the correspondence reads.
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