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Minister Coughlan increases payment rates for retired farmers participating in Early Retirement Schemes

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, announced today that she was increasing the payment rates under the Schemes of Early Retirement from Farming with effect from 1 November 2006. The Minister said that a total of 5,000 retired farmers would benefit from these increases to a value of €33 m over their remaining time in the schemes.

Pension payments are currently being made under two EU-funded Schemes of Early Retirement from Farming. The first of these was open to farmers who retired between 1994 to 1999, and the maximum payment under this Scheme is being increased from €12,075 to €14,075. The second Scheme was launched in 2000 and is due to close to new applications on 31 December 2006. The maximum payment under this Scheme is being increased from €13,515 to €15,000.

"There have been repeated calls for these pensions to be increased and index-linked," the Minister said, "but I was consistently told by the European Commission that increases for existing participants would not be eligible for EU funding and that index-linking was ruled out by the EU Regulations. I was able, however, to establish that the Commission would not oppose increases that were fully funded from the national Exchequer. In this context, therefore, I am glad to be in a position to announce that the increases will come into effect from the beginning of this month."

The current Scheme closes to new applications on 31 December 2006. Proposals for a new Scheme, with a maximum payment rate of €15,000, have been included in the draft Rural Development Plan for the period 2006-2013 which was published for consultation last week, prior to being submitted to the European Commission for approval.

13 November, 2006

Date Released: 13 November 2006