Minister ‘listened’ to Inishowen farmers

Joe McHugh TD has said that the Government’s decision to provide €20m in funding for a re-opened Agri-Environmental Options Scheme, which will be open to new applicants, is a good deal for Donegal farmers.

Speaking after the announcement today of the new AEOS scheme by Minister for Agriculture & Marine Simon Coveney TD on Tuesday 25th September, Deputy McHugh said: “The provision of €20m for the AEOS scheme, which will open shortly for new applicants, will mean that individual farmers will be able to apply for payments of up to €4,000 per annum under the re-opened scheme. 6,000 new farmers will be able to participate in this scheme.

“Farmers will be paid to undertake verifiable environmental measures that will be both attractive to farmers, and will deliver worthwhile benefits to the community in respect of water quality and biodiversity.

“The REPS scheme of the past delivered in spades for farming and for the Irish economy. The scheme gave grant assistance to farmers for agricultural improvements, and money was spent in the local economy, in co-ops, hardware stores and in payments to local contractors who provide important rural employment. The new AEOS scheme is a good news story for local economies in rural areas.

“Applicants to the new scheme whose farms include designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) will be required to follow sustainable management plans, to be prepared by a planner. These applicants will be given priority in determining access to the scheme. Other applicants will not be required to engage a planner to complete application forms.

“Applicants will be assessed on criteria that will include previous participation in REPS, farm size and location in Disadvantaged Areas.

“These issues were discussed at a meeting that I facilitated in Government Buildings between a delegation of Inishowen farmers and the Minister for Agriculture and Marine, Simon Coveney TD, on Tuesday 10th July.

“I am pleased that Minister Coveney took on board the concerns that were expressed by Donegal farmers in Government Buildings that day.

“Full details of the new scheme will be available via Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Teagasc offices and at www.agriculture.gov.ie in the next few days.

“This is a good deal for farmers.”