The Department’s functions include

  • development of a consumer-focused agrifood sector.
  • Maintenance of high standards in the area of food safety,
  • animal and plant welfare and health,
  • disease elimination
  • discharge of EU and national legislation
  • payment of EU and national support schemes

The Department has published a statement of strategy, consumer service action plan and customer charter.  It is also published charters of rights for farmers.

The Department publishes an annual guide setting out schemes and services. Agrivision 2015 sets out actions designed to ensure the success of the farming sector.

Appeals Office

The Agriculture Appeals Office provides service to farmers who are dissatisfied with the decisions of the Department in relation to entitlements under certain schemes.  The appeals officers are independent in the performance of their functions.  The appeals must generally be lodged within 3 months.  Each case is assigned to an individual appeals officer who makes a determination, having reviewed the evidence.  The appellant has a right to an oral hearing at a neutral venue.  They are held in private and are informal.

The Agriculture Appeals Office hears appeals under the following schemes

  • Single payment
  • Area-based compensation
  • Arable aid payments
  • Extentification premium
  • Rural environmental protection scheme
  • Organic farming schemes
  • Early retirement scheme
  • Farm investment schemes
  • Installation aids
  • Certain aspects of disease eradication schemes


The consumer liaison panel liaises on general consumers and client-based issues in relation to the Department’s activities and comments on the flows of information both to and from the public.  It meets on a regular basis to provide input and feedback from the consumer’s perspective to the Department.  Consumers may communicate with the panel.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is a national body responsible for food safety enforcement.  It is an independent agency whose primary function is to protect public health and consumer interests.  It uses service contracts with a number of government agencies.

The Department has a service contract in relation to meet hygiene, milk and milk products, eggs, pesticide control, border inspection, residue monitoring and food labelling.

Safe Food is the food safety promotion board.

Functional Units

The Department is divided into a number of functional units each under a member of the Department’s management committee. The subDivisions of functional areas are divided into four principal headings

  • agricultural payments; encompassing single payments, investments, forestry and agricultural structural Division
  • policy unit encompassing EU trade, planning CAP and rural development,
  • meat, hygiene and animal by-product Division,
  • crop policy,
  • corporate affairs
  • corporate development including finance, accounting, audit and management services
  • food safety and animal health including livestock breeding, pesticides, animal health and welfare, national beef assurance Division
  • Agricultural payments.

Rural environmental protection scheme

The principal purpose of REPS is

  • to establish farming practices and control production methods consistent with conservation landscape protection and environmental preservation
  • to protect wild habitats and endangered species and
  • to produce quality food in an extensive and environmentally friendly manner

Random checks and inspections are made in relation to a number of cases before payments are effected.  The payments are made for a 5-year period

The unit is responsible for the coordination of matters relating to the early retirement scheme.  This scheme is opened to farmers within 55 and 66 who practise farming for 10 years and who retire from farming definitively and transfer of farms to qualified younger farmers.

The organic farming unit promotes the development of the organic farming sector.  It is the competent authority under EU regulations on organic food production.  The largest source of funding is from the REPS scheme.  The objective is to encourage producers to respond to the market for organic produce.

Single Payment Scheme +

The single payment scheme is the central scheme of farm support in the EU for the period 2005 to 2014 and for 2014-2020.  It is based on outputs in certain reference year 2000 to 2002 and replaced the pre-existing livestock and arable aid schemes from 2005.

The scheme is comprised of a number of individual entitlements.  The number of payment entitlements is related to the average number of eligible hectares declared during the reference years and gives a monetary value per entitlement.

The dairy premium scheme was established in 2005 and was added to the existing SPS entitlement.  Former sugar farmers were entitled to additional entitlements or referable to the sugar beet reference period 2001, 2002 and 2004. Payments under the scheme are made in a single lump sum.  The application form must be made and completed annually

The Department maintains a database of entitlements in order to ensure proper payments to the current holder.  Farmers may transfer their entitlements with or without land.  This may occur by sales, transfer,  inheritance, gift, lease, merger or change of legal status. There is a procedure for the transfer of entitlements.

There is a national reserve to minimise the impact on farmers who were disadvantaged by the impact of the rules due to the factors operating in the reference years or afterwards.  It may also cater for farmers who entered farming after 2002.

There are requirements for cross-compliance.  The Department undertakes on-farm checks and eligibility checks.  It carries out administrative checks on applications and verifies entitlements. EU legislation requires sampling and control and on the spot checks. A certain amount of checking is undertaken remotely.

The area-based disadvantage area compensatory allowance scheme is administered by the section.  The aims of the scheme are to ensure continued agricultural land use and contribute to the maintenance of a viable rural community to maintain the countryside and promote sustainable farming

On-farm investment schemes

The Department aims to improve agricultural structures by providing aid at farm level to improve the environment, dairy, hygiene animal welfare standards and to reduce the average farmers’ age.

The 2000-2006 scheme provided schemes for investment aid for farm waste, improvements in dairy hygiene standards, alternative enterprises, installation aid for young farmers.

The schemes are formulated under the regional operational programs and the Department processes the payments under each scheme.  The schemes are administered through a network of local agricultural environmental and structure (AES) offices.

Subsidies Division

The Subsidies and Storage Division administers EU aided schemes for private storage, dehydrated fodder, starch production aids and other aid schemes incorporating milk and milk products. This includes casein, market butter used in the production of pastry products or ice cream, aid for skimmed milk and subsidy on milk consumed by schoolchildren and butter used by certain non-profit organisations.

The schemes are delivered with the support of and liaison with bodies such as cooperatives and private storage facilities.  They are available to traders and processors in the commodities concerned.  The Department monitors production quality and storage conditions for the commodities.

The division administers EU assisted intervention schemes in relation to butter, milk powder, cereals, sugar and beef.  Intervention is designed to support the price of agricultural products and ensure an orderly market by purchasing into intervention where there is oversupply and selling out when the market conditions improve.

The Division is responsible for the purchase, storage, and sale of commodities under the scheme. The Department acts as the agent of the European Commission in coordinating schemes

The section administers the fallen animal schemes.  It subsidises the collection of fallen bovine carcasses,  rendering disposal and incineration of fallen animal carcasses.  The staff has responsibility for the processing of claims from knackeries for the collection of bovine animals.  The Department implements EU rules regarding animal by-products not intended for human use.

Export Refunds

The Export Refunds Division pays EU finance refunds on imports and exports to third countries under the common agricultural policy.  It applies to milk products, beef, cereal, pig meat, poultry and eggs and processed products containing certain agricultural products.

The Export Refund Division issues import licenses for certain commodities including wine, milk and milk products and sugar.  Other imports are licensed by other areas of the Department.

Forest Service

The Forest Service has an administrative and inspectorate side.  The administrative side is divided into operational and policy divisions.  The operations divisions designs and administers various grants and premium schemes for national forestry programs.  It also deals with the control of felling, replanting forest health and IT development.

The section deals with proposals for afforestation and other activities supported under grants and premium schemes and issues approvals and refusals.  The section also deals with changes of applicants for schemes arising out of death, transfer of grant-aided plantation. It recovers grant and premium payments when land is taken out of forestry use.

The appeals unit deals with the review of applications and claims when customers/the public are dissatisfied.

The payment section manage first and second instalment grants, maintenance grants and premiums under all forestry schemes.

IFORIS and Felling manages and controls felling under the Forestry Act.  It issues license and prosecutes cases of alleged illegal felling.

Forestry Policies

The Policy Division is responsible for national forestry policies.  This includes the promotion of private forestry, environmental compatibility, training and promotion of research in forestry and forest produce.

The Division deals with forestry issues at national European and international levels.  It is responsible for the development of national policies and programs that promote the growth of forests in Ireland taking account of EU and national legislation

The promotion and training section considers applications and allocates funds in relation to the promotion of forestry and the development of public awareness.  It also facilitates measures to train landowners and other persons involved in forestry establishment and management as well as those downstream in the processing and marketing sector.  It liaises with Coillte Teoranta to ensure adherence to the provisions of the forestry legislation.

Forestry Inspectorate

The Forest Service Inspectorate ensures through inspections, advice and decisions that all forestry legislative and operational issues on according to principles and practice of sustainable forest management, the code of best forest practice and the operational requirements of all forestry schemes administered by the forest service.

It sets and maintains quality standards, implements legislation, carries out field inspections and makes reports and recommendations. The forestry services inspectorate includes experts in archaeology, ecology and landscape architecture.

District forestry inspectors carry out

  • inspection of proposals and applications
  • grant schemes
  • felling licences,
  • inspections relating to forest protection,
  • forestry reproduction material and other technical aspects of forestry.

They also engage in promoting and encouragement in the development of private forestry through lectures, field demonstrations, exhibitions, workshops and liaison with Teagasc.

Policy Units

The Policy Unit of the Department of Agriculture comprises three distinct areas. each with its own assistant secretary-general.

The EU Trade Division coordinates and decides on optimum policy framework for the agri-food sector, rural economy and natural environment at the EU and international level by coordinating and deciding policy.  It

  • negotiates at the international and EU level,
  • coordinates briefing on services,
  • various high-level bilateral meetings,
  • ensures EU directives that transposed into law,
  • notifies state aids in the agrifood sectors to the Commission

The Economics and Planning Division provides services to Minister on economics, statistics, policy planning and policy analysis.  It carries out work for other divisions or directly for the Minister.

The CAP rural development provision is to ensure the best policy framework for rural development.  It coordinates through liaison with other divisions, bodies, Departments, regional assemblies, social partners and the European Commission.

Beef Policy

The Beef Policy section develops and formulates policy relating to the cattle and beef sector.  This involves

  • promoting and defending Irish interests at EU beef and veal management committee level and other fora monitoring and evaluating EU policies and trading conditions,
  • monitoring and evaluating developments in third countries
  • management of the beef import licensing scheme
  • implementation of beef labelling rules,
  • evaluation of grant applications by processors in the beef industry

The general rules on the beef market organisation are agreed at the EU level and laid down in EU regulation


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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