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Minister Smith Confirms Additional Support for Sheep Farmers

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed that sheep farmers will be "the substantial beneficiaries from the allocation of some €25 million in unused CAP funds from 2010".

Minister Smith said that he acknowledged "the particular difficulties being experienced by the sheep sector" and said that it was for this reason that he had allocated €7 million from the Single Farm Payment National Reserve to 14,000 hill sheep farmers this year.  The Minister pointed out that these were the only funds to which he had access in 2009.

The Minister said that he expected that there would be in the region of €25 million in additional funding available in unused CAP funds to target specific sectors and regions in need of assistance and said that "nobody could doubt that the Irish sheep sector was one that is in need of such assistance".

Minister Smith confirmed that his Department was preparing, for submission to the EU Commission by 15th July, a new Rural Development Programme, which will incorporate the additional modulated moneys, estimated to be around €17 million in 2010 and the new funding available from the European Economic Recovery Package.  "My main priority, in allocating these funds is to ensure that they are used in the most efficient and effective manner for the development of Irish agriculture".

Minister Smith concluded by saying that "In relation to the unused funds, I am not yet in a position to specify what additional scheme(s) will be introduced to further assist sheep production but, as I have indicated previously, hill and lowland sheep farmers will be the substantial beneficiaries from the allocation of these funds".

Date Released: 03 June 2009