Fine Gael TD for Kildare South Martin Heydon has this week described the announcement of €12.5bn of rural development funding as a significant investment in rural Ireland and a vote of confidence in the agricultural and food sectors. The investment, a combination of EU Common Agricultural Funding with National Exchequer funding was confirmed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Simon Coveney following this weeks cabinet meeting.
“The combination of €1.9bn in national funding added to the €2.2bn EU funding for expenditure in rural development highlights this Governments commitment to Agriculture, at a time of scarce resources. This programme will encourage more on farm investment and assist in the overall aim of job creation. Crucially these jobs will be focused in rural Ireland.”
“EU funding of €8.5bn in direct payments to farmers which was secured by Minister Coveney as part of the CAP negotiations last year is also included in the programme. While this money will be paid to farmers, it is a direct injection into every rural community in the Country and represents a major stimulus for rural Ireland that will have a significant knock on effect.”
“The announcement also confirmed a top up scheme for young farmers with a 25% top up on direct payments available to farmers under 40 years of age. The future of the agriculture industry depends on encouraging more young people back to the industry. With the demise of the construction sector, farming is an option again for many young people and this scheme should help to encourage and retain young people in the sector.”
“Other areas targeted in the programme is a substantial new agri-environment scheme (GLAS) to build on the progress of REPS and AEOS, incentives for on-farm capital investment, including support for the expansion of the dairy sector following the abolition of milk quotas in 2015, and continued support for disadvantaged areas.”
“The Irish food and agriculture sectors have continued to grow and prosper despite other national setbacks providing significant national income and employment. This programme gives recognition to a sector that has and continues to play a vital role in Ireland’s recovery.”