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Minister Coughlan launches new Farm Waste Management Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today announced the details of the new Farm Waste Management Scheme which is designed to help farmers meet the requirements of the EU Nitrates Directive which has been formally agreed by the European Commission.

Minister Coughlan expressed her gratitude to the Commission and Commissioner Fischer Boel in particular for accepting the strong case put forward by Ireland in support of this wide-ranging and historic measure. The Minister also thanked the various representative bodies who co-operated in drafting the details of this scheme.

The Minister expressed great satisfaction that this scheme, announced in outline last year, was now in place. It represented a major financial contribution by the Government to modernising Irish agriculture and to helping farmers meet new standards required by the Nitrates Directive.

This is a demand-led scheme with a projection of up to €250m for the scheme over the next three years; €42 million is provided in the Estimates of the Department for this year. EU co-funding of this expenditure will be up to 40%.

The Minister indicated that the application forms for participation in the scheme were now available in Department local AES offices throughout the country and were also now available on the Department's website.

She said that great efforts had been made to keep the bureaucracy of this scheme including the details required on the application form to a minimum. The Department was also providing an extensive easily read document on the terms and conditions of the scheme.

The Minister stressed that applications under the scheme must be received by her Department before 31 December of this year and that the work involved in installing the improved facilities be completed before 31 December 2008. Under the existing Nitrates Regulations storage facilities for farmers must be completed by 31 December, 2006.

The Minister was pleased that the scheme recognised the need for differential treatment of the four Zone C counties - Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan - where a 70% standard grant rate was being applied to both animal housing and slurry storage as compared with the new 60% grant rate in other areas. These increases were very significant given the current grant rate for this work was 40% throughout the country.

Other significant elements of the scheme include:

  • Extension of the maximum income unit ceiling from 450 to 650 income units with no limit on income being applied in the case of pig and poultry farmers;
  • The maximum eligible investment ceiling is being raised from €75,000 to €120,000 per holding;
  • Top-up grants are available for young farmers in certain cases;
  • The minimum income units requirement of the current scheme is being abolished;
  • The scheme is being extended for the first time to include horses, deer, goats, pigs, poultry and mushroom compost;
  • The scheme will include grant aid for the construction of earth-lined slurry/effluent stores with protective fencing which are built in accordance with the Department's specifications;
  • The scheme includes a new 40% grant rate for specialised equipment with specific environmental advantages such as decanter centrifuge systems, dry feeding systems for pigs, and specialised slurry spreading tankers;
  • The maximum eligible investment for standard mobile equipment is being increased from €11,000 to €15,000;

The Minister concluded that the launch of this scheme was an exciting and forward-looking measure by the Government to help farmers adjust to the new environmental conditions required by the EU Nitrates Directive.

Minister Coughlan urged farmers to take the necessary steps to ensure that their participation in the scheme was not made impossible by late submission of completed applications.

Recognising that applications must be received before 31 December 2006, the Minister has accepted that where proposed works require planning permission, applications would be accepted by her Department where such planning permission had been applied for to the relevant local authority. However, she stressed that approval to proceed would not be forthcoming until a full copy of the planning permission had been received by her Department.

24 March, 2006

Date Released: 24 March 2006