Thursday, 5 July 2012

Questions (138)

Gerald Nash

Question:

138 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the budget which may be left over from the rural broadband scheme totalling some €17million could be reallocated to help fund a new agri environment options scheme for farmers, especially in view of the risk of losing matching funding under the terms of European Agricultural Guarantee Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32884/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine)

The EU funding which is allocated to the Rural Broadband Scheme, which is the responsibility of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, is provided under the European Economic Recovery Package (EERP). The EERP funding must be used for measures aimed at addressing new challenges which include climate change, biodiversity and water quality. All funding options for an Agri-environmental Options Scheme (AEOS) are being considered at present.

The reallocation of EERP funding to AEOS is also dependent on the provision of national matching funding for that scheme. I am actively considering the possibility of re-opening AEOS to allow for the submission of applications either on an amended basis from the existing scheme and/or on a limited scale, including the possibility of re-opening for applications later in the year. The full year cost of any new scheme will have to be met in 2013 and any decision to re-open AEOS will be taken in the context of consideration of the resources available and the need to remain within the agreed expenditure ceiling for my Department in 2013. I will make an announcement as soon as I have reached a decision on the situation.