By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
HomeA-Z IndexSubscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

McConalogue announces more details on the environmental initiatives of Budget 2021 announcements

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, has provided further details of his Department’s 2021 Budget and specifically the new agri-environment initiatives. The Department’s budget has provided a significant increase of 11% for Irish agriculture compared to the previous year.

The Minister said, “I’m delighted, together with Ministers Hackett and Heydon, to secure a significant increase in funding in Budget 2021 for Irish agriculture and to prioritise a large element of this for new and existing agri-environment initiatives. These are initiatives that will contribute to national and international strategies on climate change mitigation and the protection of biodiversity, air and water quality”.

The budget was formed in the context of the recently published Climate Action (Amendment) Bill which sets the framework for the realisation of Ireland’s climate ambition for the next 30 years. Minister McConalogue indicated that, “As a Government we have agreed that reducing emissions and meeting our climate and other environmental obligations are critical priorities. Climate change is a reality, and farmers, more than most, are sensitive to the impact of more extreme weather conditions. They are the people who produce the food we eat. They understand how extremes of rain, or drought, or storm force winds affect their production systems and their livelihoods”.

My first priority in this Budget on agri-environment funding was to ensure that this transition to the next CAP ran smoothly and that farmers could continue to access current schemes next year without interruption. The budget has provided for continued farm supports of €879 million in 2021, including more than €628 million for the Rural Development Programme (RDP). This will provide funding for the continuation of existing schemes. This is the first time that farmers in large-scale schemes such as GLAS have this kind of continuity in the transition between CAP periods. 

The Minister confirmed that his Department is extending existing RDP schemes including: Areas Facing Natural Constraints (ANC), Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS), Beef Data & Genomics Programme (BDGP), Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS), Organic Farming Scheme (OFS), Burren Programme, support for setting up Beef Producer Organisations (BPOs), Targeted Advisor Service for Animal Health (TASAH), GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings (GTFB) and Collaborative Farming.  The Department will now seek formal approval from the Commission for the adjustment to the duration of the existing RDP schemes, in line with EU rules over the coming months. 

The Minister commented that, “The budget allocation will now enable Ireland to drawdown all the EU funding for Rural Development at the earliest opportunity to allow us to continue to support the farming sector in these uncertain times. It also helps us to continue the environmental benefits under our schemes. GLAS delivers significant levels of benefits including  60,500 hectares of Traditional Hay Meadows, 250,000 hectares of Low Input Permanent Pasture, 18,600 hectares of wild bird cover. Over 1.5m trees and 1.1m metres of new hedgerows have been planted and maintained over the course of the scheme together with over 430,000 bee, bird and bat boxes.’’

The Minister also confirmed an additional €79 million for Agri Environment  and Farm Safety initiatives , and that he would be seeking approval from the EU Commission to implement these through a revised Rural Development Programme. He said that while work was underway to define the precise nature of the measures to be included, it was, subject to EU approval,  intended to provide for:

  • a pilot, results based scheme with a significant focus on biodiversity and climate change. This will be directed at farmers not currently in GLAS, to increase the number of farmers participating in agri environment schemes and inform the development of a new Agri Environment Measure on a national scale;
  • New actions that would allow farmers to increase their environmental ambition, with €10 million ring fenced for the tillage sector;
  • €4 million to allow for a 30% increase in funding to support organic farmers;
  • €12 million for farmer training, with a focus on biodiversity improvement and farm safety.

The Minister concluded, “I am very pleased to deliver this new funding and schemes and to have collaborated closely with my Ministerial Colleagues in the Department, Martin Heydon and Pippa Hackett. I set my Department a clear two-fold target in this budget of protecting farm incomes, in light of the unprecedented challenges of Brexit and Covid, and delivering new and innovative environmental measures.   I am very pleased that we delivered on both and have set ourselves on a clear strategic pathway for the next CAP and to address critical environmental and climate change issues.”

Date Released: 15 October 2020