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Minister Wallace addresses ACA Conference in Athlone

Ms Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for Forestry, today addressed the Agricultural Consultants at their AGM in the Hudson Bay Hotel, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Speaking at the AGM, the Minister of State Wallace commended the ACA on their role in the delivery of schemes and services to Irish farmers and she praised the ACA for their commitment to the FEPS and REPS schemes. These schemes offer large environmental benefits to the Country and she added it was "the likes of your members that have the task of translating the Scheme into the everyday reality of each individual farm".

The Minister of State spoke briefly about the recent developments in the forestry sector, including the changes to the FEPS scheme and added that "it has never been a better time for landowners to consider forestry given the current emphasis on the environmental benefits of forestry and the growing market for renewable energy". Ireland's afforestation aid package is worth over €900 million for the period 2007-2013 and Minister Wallace hoped that this would help to increase the area under forestry and she urged ACA members to present the benefits of forestry to their clients.

Minister Wallace outlined Ireland's commitments to Energy and Climate Change. By 2020 Ireland has to:

  • obtain 16% of its energy from renewable sources;
  • ensure that biofuels make up 10% of transport fuel; and
  • reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.

Minister Wallace highlighted the measures such as the National Energy Crop Premium, the Bioenergy Scheme and the Wood Biomass Harvesting Machinery Grant Scheme that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have put in place to help reach these targets.

The Minister of State briefly mentioned the Farm Waste Management Scheme and highlighted the importance of increased safety measures on farms during the construction period. She urged the ACA to make their clients participating in this scheme aware of the end of year deadline for construction works to be completed.

Concluding, Minister of State Wallace added: "Agriculture is going through a period of rapid change in Ireland. Farmers have a very important role to play in delivering Ireland's commitments to Climate Change, Biodiversity and Water Quality. I have no doubt that all of us, the ACA included, will meet these changes and steer the agricultural sector into a new area of success and development."

Date Released: 07 March 2008