By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Farmers have Important Role in Future of Bio-Energy - Coughlan

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today called on more farmers to consider diversifying into energy crops but acknowledged that the current EU Energy Crop Scheme payment of €45 per hectare is not sufficient.

Minister Coughlan, who was speaking in Co. Tipperary at the official opening of the 50th Bansha Agricultural and Industrial Show, also revealed that to date there had only been 250 applications made to her Department for the energy crop payment in 2006.

The Minister said that to be successful in developing the sector, more encouraging signals must be sent to farmers. In that context, the Government are currently drafting the National Bio-Energy Strategy. Due for completion by the end of 2006, the main objective is to maximise the contribution of indigenous bio-energy across the agriculture, enterprise, transport and energy sectors. It will establish a firm road map to exploit the potential of bio-energy resources, quantify opportunities and benefits and introduce policy support measures.

"Farmers have shown that they are interested in this area but it is equally clear that farmers will require an adequate return if this interest is to be translated into action. At present, production of energy crops in Ireland is relatively small as currently the economics of energy crops are marginal compared to conventional crop tillage. As this is still a relatively new field and requires adaptations in farming systems, incentives must be made available to encourage farmers to grow more energy crops.

"Support is currently available under the EU Energy Crops Scheme, however the premium of €45 per hectare is not sufficiently attractive to encourage farmers to grow energy crops, and the low level of take - up in 2006 for the premium bears out this fact. I believe greater incentives must be made available. In that context I called on the EU Commission to review the scheme and this review will take place later this year. Going into this review process, it is my firm view that we need to send more encouraging signals to farmers if we are serious about developing this sector. I can assure you that the Government is committed to ensure both that bio-energy is successful and that farmers benefit significantly."

Highlighting the priority being give by the Government to renewable energy, Minister Coughlan said that the farmers would have an important role to play given that agriculture and forestry are the sources of most of the raw materials for bio-energy. As a result, the Minister said that further development of the bio-energy sector presented an exciting new opportunity for farmers and rural communities.

"I see bio-energy as a new opportunity for farmers and rural communities and I am determined that there will be a direct and substantial link to farmers to encourage and support them. This is not and cannot be an initiative primarily focused on the companies producing and distributing the final fuel."

23 August, 2006

Date Released: 23 August 2006