Information & Resources.
If you are just starting out as a smallholder, or even if you've been at it for a while, it can be hard to find your way around regulations, or even to know where to go to get the information you need. Here. we've tried to provide as much as we can of the information, contacts and forms that you'll need, all in one place. If you can't find what you're looking for here, please let us know! We'd like to make this page as useful as possible, so all suggestions are gratefully received.
For general farming advice, registration, inspections, grants and schemes there are 4 main bodies to deal with- just click on the logos to visit their websites. To find more specific information and directly download application forms, booklets and other information, check out the sections further down this page.
LIVESTOCK & POULTRY REGULATIONS
Here you will find all the forms you need to register for a flock or herd number, plus listings for abbatoirs, veterinary offices etc.
All farm animals have rights, and are protected by law. Welfare codes usually list five basic freedoms that should underpin on farm animal welfare best practice.
The complete guidelines for animal protection can be downloaded below;
If you are buying and selling livestock, or their meat/milk/eggs, you MUST register as a herd-owner and report all movements, slaughter etc. This is not difficult, it's free of charge, and it does make sense- it protects animal health and welfare, as well as offering food traceability for people. There are slightly different rules for different animals- see below.
Once you've filled in the appropriate forms, contact your local Department of Agriculture office, and they'll tell you where to send it in to... CLICK HERE to find details for all local offices.
Cattle, Sheep & Goats.
You must register for a herd number if you're keeping any of these animals, and all animals must be tagged (usually on the ear). To get a herd number, you will have to have at least 1.5 acres of land... which makes sense as you will need that much anyway. You'll need to provide EITHER deeds to your own land OR a leasing agreement for rented land. In addition, dairy animals must be tested each year for TB and Brucellosis. This will all be set up automatically when you register, and you'll get a reminder each year. Animals can only be slaughtered at a registered abattoir, and your local District Veterinary Office will be able to tell you where to find your nearest one.
The situation with pigs is a little different. They must still be registered and tagged, but you will not need so much land... many pigs are kept indoors. You will also have to find a special abattoir- as part of disease control restrictions, only specially-registered slaughterhouses with separate facilities can handle pigs. You will receive a list of these when you get your pig herd number.
Technically, since the rise in concerns over avian 'flu, ALL poultry should be registered, even if you only keep one or two hens and eat the eggs yourself. If you are selling eggs, they must be registered. There are strict regulations as to the conditions required for caged, barn or free-range eggs, which you will find in the EU directive below. For details on labelling and sale of eggs and meat, see our Processing/Selling section on the right.
PROCESSING / SELLING YOUR PRODUCE
Links and documents for food safety, labelling regulations, and finding or setting up markets.
Markets & Farm Gate Sales.
The easiest way to sell your produce is straight from home, at the farm gate, but this only really works if your farm is easily accessible and has "passing trade". If not, you may want to attend one or more markets, depending on how much time you can spare. There are few unregulated markets left in Ireland, so if you want to take a stall you will usually be asked for a fee, and you will need to have public liability insurance. Most street markets won't let you trade without it. This can be costly if you go it alone, but there are several ways around it- one of the easiest is to join the Organisation of Irish Market and Street Traders. Membership of the IOMST gives you a special discounted rate of insurance, and they also give lots of advice and support both for individual traders and groups wanting to set up new markets. You can apply for membership HERE.
For small producers, the Country Markets association can also be a good option... again, membership covers insurance for traders, and they typically provide an indoor venue for a small weekly market. Visit their site to see if there is a Country Market in your area.
Bord Bia also give lots of information and guidelines for those selling at markets, or through shops- again, you can download their booklet below.
Labelling Your Produce.
If you're selling your produce, then labelling is very important. If you are selling preserves, baked goods or cooked foods, you should include a list of all ingredients and when it was prepared. Foods which have been previously frozen (and therefore should not be frozen again) should be labelled as such.
If you are selling meat, traceability is essential and you must include your herd number on the label. It is perfectly legal for anyone to sell their own meat direct, so long as they are a registered herd keeper and all the appropriate information is displayed on the label. The same rules apply for poultry.
For eggs, if you wish to sell them as "free range" then you must comply with the welfare regulations for free-range birds (see the "poultry" section on the left). If you have LESS than 50 birds, you can sell your own eggs directly without stamping them. If you have more than 50 birds and/or if you wish to sell your eggs through shops, then they must be stamped.
Whether you are preparing foods at home or in a commercial kitchen, all food businesses are required by law to have a food safety management system in place. You will need to have your kitchen/facilities inspected, and get an HACCP food safety certificate.. This is not as bad as it sounds... most domestic kitchens pass inspection easily, and all the ladies of the ICA selling cakes and jams will have had their kitchens checked. Most of the rules are common sense. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland oversee inspections and provide information, training and certification. You may not necessarily need to go on a training course... see their website HERE for details.
GRANTS, SCHEMES & LAND LEASING
Details for farm payments and leasing agreements.
Single Farm Payment.
The Single Farm Payment scheme (SFP, which included the disadvantaged area payments) will be undergoing many changes in 2014, with the rolling out of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). If you have been in receipt of the SFP up to 2013, then your local Dept. of Agriculture should be advising you how to proceed. For new farmers wanting to make a claim, the situation is as yet unclear (24/02/14).
If you have a query about direct payments to farmers, you should contact the CAP 2015 Direct Payments Information Centre
Telephone: 0761 064438
Details, press releases etc. relating to "CAP Towards 2020" can be found HERE
You can find out more about the CAP reforms, and read the new regulations, on the European Commission website HERE
If you want to start a project but you don't have enough land, you might want to consider share farming. Overseen by Teagasc, "Share farming is an arrangement where two parties, a landowner and a share farmer, carry on separate farming businesses on the same land without forming a partnership or company."