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Minister Smith Confirms Approval of Revised Rural Development Programme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, confirmed that Ireland's revised Rural Development Programme (RDP) has been approved by the EU Rural Development Management Committee meeting in Brussels today.

The revised Programme, which provides for spending of additional funds for rural development arising under the Health Check and the European Economic Recovery Package, includes the new agri-environment scheme as well as a number of new on-farm investment schemes.

The new agri-environment scheme will benefit up to 10,000 participants and will provide a maximum payment of €5,000, as Minister Smith had previously stated at the time of Budget 2010 last month. It is focused on the priority areas of biodiversity, climate change and water management. It offers a menu of measures addressing these priorities and farmers may choose measures which complement the environmental profile of their farms. Details of the operation of the new agri-environment scheme will be finalised over the next few weeks.

The investment schemes include measures for dairy and sheep farmers, pig and poultry welfare measures and a water conservation scheme. In addition, provision has also been made for funding of establishment grants for bio-energy crops.

The revised Programme must now be formally approved by the European Commission and this is expected by the end of February. The roll-out of the various investment schemes will be phased over the lifetime of the Programme.

Date Released: 20 January 2010