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Additional 80 euro Energy Crop Top-up a major Incentive for farmers - Coughlan

Speaking on a visit to Kanturk, Co. Cork today, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, said that the introduction of an €80 national top up to the €45 per hectare Energy Crop Premium would be of significant benefit to tillage farmers in the county.

"This is an additional incentive for tillage farmers to grow energy crops and I hope that farmers will take advantage of this opportunity as we aim to kick-start the bio-fuels industry in Ireland."

Under the new proposal, which will require EU approval, farmers who choose to grow energy crops will receive an additional €80 per hectare for a maximum 94 hectares per producer over three years. This is in addition to the existing €45 per hectare Energy Crop Premium.

"Energy crops are a new opportunity for farmers in Co. Cork and elsewhere, particularly for those farmers that had previously grown sugar beet. I have long been of the view however, that farmers could only be expected to produce energy crops for bio-fuels if there was a good economic return. Improving profitability at farm level has always been, in my view, an essential element to developing this sector in Ireland. It could never simply be an initiative focused only on the companies producing and distributing the final fuel.

"The recently announced excise relief scheme will help drive demand at processing level for energy crops over the next five years and provide farmers with a stable market. The total €125 premium per hectare will stimulate production at farm level.

"Bio-energy presents an important new opportunity for farmers and rural communities. In Government, we are committed to ensuring its success."

8 December, 2006

Date Released: 08 December 2006