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Rush of applications absorbs agreed funding for Farm Inprovement Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today announced that applications under the Farm Improvement Scheme has reached the level of funding available and that, as a result, the scheme is closed to new applications for now. Funding for the Scheme is provided as part of the overall package of measures amounting to ?8.6 billion of public funding for the agri-food sector which was agreed under the Partnership agreement and is set out in the National Development Plan, 2007-2013.

Minister Coughlan said that the rush of applications in recent weeks has resulted in the full envelope of funds for the scheme being reached. Total applications received in the past few weeks accounted for 37% of the 11,000 applications received since the scheme was launched in July. This is on top of the 48,000 applications under the Farm Waste Management Scheme.

In accordance with the published terms of the scheme, her Department is now proceeding to process applications and to issue approvals up to the level of funding available. Payment of grant aid will issue in respect of all approved projects in due course when the work involved had been completed.

The Minister said that the funding for the Scheme was agreed under the Partnership agreement, Towards 2016, as part of an overall programme of investment in the agri-food sector. A total of €350 million was provided for farm waste and other on-farm investment measures, of which, €79 million was provided for investments in farm improvements. The Minister said that she had indicated, at the time of the launch of the Scheme, that the Scheme would be terminated when this financial ceiling had been reached. The level of demand has meant that funding for the Scheme had now been fully committed in terms of applications received.

The Minister confirmed that, in fact, her Department is already committed to expenditure substantially in excess of the ?350 million provided for on-farm investment as a result of the large number of approvals under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. The overall package of funding under Partnership also includes substantial increases in respect of REPS and payments in disadvantage areas which will continue into the future.

The Minister said that the funding for the Farm Improvement Scheme is provided under Partnership which provides for a review in 2008. In accordance with the terms of the agreement, the review will take stock of the outcomes achieved in relation to the overall goals and will consider opportunities to refocus and reprioritise.

31 October 2007

Date Released: 31 October 2007