Ireland’s Department of Agriculture has included a clause in the EU Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Terms and Conditions for 2012 to include genuine horse breeders.
In order to qualify for the scheme farmers must be in a Disadvantaged Area and have a minimum number of animals on their farm depending on the size of their holding. This figure is known as the livestock density.
It was announced in December 2012 that horses would no longer be counted towards establishing the minimum density which would have ruled many horse breeders out of the scheme as they might not have sufficient numbers of other livestock to meet the minimum density.
Horse Sport Ireland met with officials in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on a number of occasions in recent months with a view to finding a workable formula to include genuine horse breeders in the scheme.
The Minister had indicated that he was keen that genuine breeding operations would be included and now the details of the new arrangements have been confirmed and are contained in the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme which are being circulated to herdowners.
In order to qualify for the scheme breeders must have bred a foal in either 2009, 2010 or 2011 from a mare who was on their holding in 2011. The foal must have been registered with pedigree recorded in a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved Studbook.
Once the breeder meets this ‘trigger’ condition all appropriately registered equines between one and five years of age on the holding, will count towards stocking density as will all mares on the holding that bred a foal in either 2009, 2010 or 2011.
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Damian McDonald said that the inclusion of Equine breeders was welcome.
“Horse breeding is a legitimate farming activity. The horse sector in Ireland generates almost €1.5 billion in economic output and farmer breeders are at the heart of this. It is particularly important that small farmer breeders are supported in their activities in what are very challenging economic times for breeders.
“Horse breeding takes place in every corner of Ireland and in every parish and village. It is crucial to the economic and social fabric of rural Ireland,” he said.