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Minister Coughlan publishes Annual Report for 2005

Commenting on the publication today of her Department's Annual Report for 2005, Mary Coughlan T.D., Minister for Agriculture and Food said that 2005 was a very significant year for the agri-food industry representing the first year of the implementation of the new CAP support measures in Ireland.

Single Payment Scheme

The Minister said that her main priority for 2005 was to ensure the successful implementation of the Single Payment Scheme - the most significant change to agriculture support since Ireland's accession to the European Community.

"Following almost two years of planning and preparation payments under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme commenced on schedule on 1 December 2005 and over €1 billion was paid to farmers under the scheme by 31 December 2005. The enormity of the task should not be underestimated particularly in the first year of implementation of a completely new system and in a year where payments under the existing schemes had also to be made. In this regard, it is worth noting that farmers also received almost €620 million in final payments under the 'old' premia schemes."

Reformed CAP

The Minister added that the reformed CAP does not end with the Single Payment. The new policy framework, with the consumer centre stage and a more market focused integrated approach, has many implications for the future of the entire agri-food sector. The focus will now be on efficient production, in a sustainable manner, of quality products meeting consumer requirements. Minister Coughlan said that this will make demands right across the food production chain and will represent the major challenge in the coming years for all involved in the sector. She also pointed, at the same time, to the enormous opportunities for the agri-food sector in the context of an enlarged EU.

Financial Perspectives

The Minister pointed out that the agreement reached on the Financial Perspectives at the European Council in December 2005, represented a satisfactory outcome from Ireland's point of view. The overall objective of ensuring that adequate funding will be provided for the continuation of the CAP and rural development measures was achieved.

Over the seven years period 2007 to 2013, Ireland will receive approximately €9.1 billion in CAP direct payments. Additional spending on market supports is expected to bring total EU transfers to Ireland to over €10.3 billion. Under rural development, Ireland will receive a total allocation from EU Rural Development funds of €1.884 billion, inclusive of a special allocation for Ireland of €500 million. Modulation funds will bring the total amount available for rural development to €2.087. This outcome represents a substantial improvement on the level of funding which had been proposed for Ireland prior to the European Council.

WTO

The Minister said that negotiations continued during 2005 on a new WTO agreement. Further significant progress towards the conclusion of a new agreement was made at the Sixth Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December.

The main outcome of the negotiations on agriculture in Hong Kong relates to the conditional agreement to the phasing-out of all forms of export subsidy by 2013. This offer will only be confirmed when there is agreement on the modalities for the parallel elimination of all other forms of export subsidy and on the conclusion of a new agreement. The Minister stated her objective remains to ensure the continuation of the highest possible level of protection and support for the agri-food sector and that the final agreement will not necessitate a further reform of the CAP.

Minister Coughlan concluded her comments by saying "2005 will be remembered as the year in which a successful transition was made to the Single Payment Scheme and the commencement of a new era for a more market oriented and integrated agriculture and food sector".

Schemes and Services

The Minister also published her Department's main information booklet 'Schemes and Services 2006-2007?'which provides a comprehensive guide to the services available to the farming and the wider agri-business and rural communities.

29 September, 2006

NOTE FOR EDITORS

The reporting of activities is structured around the Department's fifth Statement of Strategy 2005-2007. Under this model each action is shown in relation to its contribution to the Department's five goals. In addition the Report covers the statutory requirement to report progress on the implementation of the Statement of Strategy, the operation of the Quality Customer Service Action Programme, progress on implementing the Programme for Government commitments, the Prompt Payment of Accounts Act and activities under the Lands Act.

Date Released: 29 September 2006