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Minister Coughlan announces €6.8 billion farming package

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced a package of measures for farmers worth €6.8 billion for the period 2007-2013. These measures relate to the agriculture elements of the Rural Development Programme, which has been central to the partnership negotiations on agriculture over the past few months. The Minister set out the final position of the Government on the funding of these measures at a meeting with the four social partner farming organisations.

Funding for the rural development proposals involves a major commitment on behalf of the Government. Out of the €6.8 billion, Exchequer funding for the farming measures in the next seven years will total €4.7 billion. This compares to €2 billion in the current round - a 135% increase. The proposals will also attract €2.1 billion from the EU and modulation

The major elements of these proposals include:-

  • A 17% increase in payments under the Rural Environmental Scheme (REPS);
  • An 8% increase in Disadvantaged Areas Scheme payments benefiting 100,000 farmers;
  • An 15% increase in Forestry Premium rates;
  • An 55% increase in Installation Aid rates bringing it to €15,000;
  • A new Early Retirement Scheme with a maximum payment rate of €15,000; and
  • A new scheme for the Suckler Herd.

Speaking at the conclusion of the discussions, Minister Coughlan said: "This €6.8 billion package is clear evidence of this Government's commitment to farmers and to rural life in Ireland. This unprecedented increased in exchequer funding has a dual aim. Firstly, it will assist competitiveness in the agriculture, food and forestry sector. Secondly, it will help to ensure respect and enhancement of the environment. It is fully in line with the EU rural development framework and is fully consistent with our vision for the future of farming and the agri-food sector in Ireland, set out in the Agri Vision 2015 Action Plan. The additional Exchequer funding is, indeed, concrete recognition of the pledges set out in that plan."

Details of the actual proposed support measures will be released for consultation in the coming days. They will address the twin aim of competitiveness and sustainability.

The Minister stated that she looked forward to working with the farm organisations and other relevant stakeholders to finalise the package of support measures in the new Rural Development Programme. She pointed out that it was in everyone's interest to work diligently on this with a view to the requisite EU approval and implementation of the new programme in early 2007.

The Minister also expressed the wish to finalise with the social partners the agriculture chapter of the partnership agreement - Towards 2016 - over the next few days.

19 October, 2006

Date Released: 19 October 2006