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Minister Coughlan welcomes €8.7 billion Agri-Food package

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., outlined today the measures in the new National Development Plan that are targeted at the agriculture and food sector. Outlining the agriculture and food package, Minister Coughlan said: "For farmers, this unprecedented investment in Irish agriculture will deliver increases in on-farm investment, enhance our rural environment and secure farmers' income in the long-term. For the consumer it will, by way of a strengthened scientific base, underpin quality, nutrition and safety of our food supply chain". She pointed out that these measures address the recommendations of the Agri-Vision 2015 Action Plan and encompass the rural development programme 2007-2013 that awaits EU approval. The overall package totals €8.7 billion in public expenditure of which €2.1 billion will be met from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development. This compares to total expenditure of €4.7 billion in 2000-2006 - an 85% increase. The measures are spread over four sub-programmes:

  • Competitiveness (€1.7bn) - This will provide increased support for restructuring through improved rates under the early retirement and installation aid schemes. On-farm capital investment, training, advice, quality, breeding and establishment of energy crops will also be assisted.
  • Environment (€6bn) - The rural environment protection scheme and related support for Natura 2000 will account for some €3 billion. A 17% increase in rates and enhanced options will build on the scheme's already substantial positive contribution. There will be an 8% increase in disadvantaged areas scheme payments and a 15% increase in forestry premiums. Support will also be provided for animal welfare in the suckler herd and for the organic sector.
  • Food Industry (€289m) - This amount relates specifically to investment in capital infrastructure and marketing. The food industry will also benefit from general industry provisions elsewhere in the NDP and from the huge investment in transport and other infrastructure that is key to continuing competitiveness.
  • Agri-Food Research (€641m) - Actions under this sub-programme will provide scientific support to the sector. They will assist the generation of new knowledge and technologies that are critical to the growth of a market-orientated and sustainable industry.

Minister Coughlan pointed out that the provisions constitute an integrated package that addresses the needs of the agri-food sector. She said "The AgriVision 2015 Action Plan set out a vision that involves optimal levels of efficiency, competitiveness and market responsiveness while respecting and enhancing the physical environment. The NDP embraces that vision. It provides clear and concrete recognition of the Government's commitment to that vision and to the continued success of the agri-food sector."

24 January, 2007

Date Released: 24 January 2007