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Minister Coughlan launches new Farm Improvement Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today launched the new Farm Improvement Scheme which will provide grant-aid for a wide range of on-farm investments over the next seven years.

The introduction of a generous on farm investment scheme at this time will underpin the future development of Irish agriculture in the face of unrelenting pressure to modernise and become more competitive in order to secure and enhance our position on international food markets. The Minister thanked all those who had been involved in the consultative process for the scheme and said the arrangements now being put in place would definitely meet the identified needs in the various sectors.

Minister Coughlan said the scheme flows directly from stated Government policy for the agri food sector as elaborated in Agri-vision 2015. "This Scheme is a vital component in the Government's drive to increase competitiveness in the agriculture sector. It delivers on the commitment in the Agri Vision 2015 Action Plan to increase competitiveness as well as enhance the environment and the countryside."

Under the Scheme, grant-aid will be available up to a maximum eligible investment ceiling of €120,000 with a separate ceiling of €120,000 being applicable in the case of dairy hygiene measures. The standard grant-rate will be 40% for animal housing and related storage facilities and for dairy hygiene investments, with a 10% top-up grant being available for eligible young farmers in certain cases.

The maximum eligible investment ceiling of €120,000 for dairy hygiene investments is substantially higher than the previous €50,000 investment ceiling which was applicable under the old Dairy Hygiene Scheme. The Minister stated that she was also able to confirm increased investment ceilings of €40,000 for milking machines and €25,000 for bulk milk tanks compared to the €16,000 investment ceilings applicable in each case under the Dairy Hygiene Scheme.

The Minister stated that she was particularly pleased that all income ceilings have been removed from the Scheme so that all farmers can participate in the Scheme. She was also pleased to confirm that the five-year restriction on access to top-up grants by young farmers has been removed so that all eligible farmers under the age of 35 will be able to benefit from these additional grants.

The Minister confirmed that grant-aid was being extended to a number of additional items including (a) out-wintering pads, (b) meal bins and silos, (c) mats on slats, cubicle beds and internal concrete areas, (d) mobile sheep handling facilities, (e) calf-feeding systems and (f) slurry separators.

Minister Coughlan acknowledged the support of the Minister for Finance in providing the funding for this important scheme, the monies for which are set out in the published Rural Development Programme. An amount of ?85m has been set-aside for the Modernisation of Agricultural Holdings and the measures will be terminated when those monies have been allocated. Expenditure of this level will by then have had a very positive effect on the development of farming infrastructure in Ireland, especially when taken in the context of the wide range and extent of other funding being channelled into farming throughout the period of the programme.

The Minister confirmed that Scheme documents and application forms are being made available on the Department's website - Click here for Farm Improvement Scheme documents

11 July 2007

Date Released: 11 July 2007