Thursday, 12 July 2012

Questions (207)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the difficulty created by downsizing of the REP scheme having particular regard to the fact that many farmers has made medium-term budgetary plans which have now fallen into disorder; if he will examine the full extent of the cohort of farmers in this category with a view to resolution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34290/12]

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

The Rural Environment Protection Scheme covers a five year contract period and annual payments continue to be made to approximately 30,000 participants who remain in the Scheme. I am, of course, conscious of the importance of agri environment payments to farmers and I re-opened the Agri-environmant Options Scheme (AEOS) 2011 despite the serious budgetary pressures and constraints facing my Department. I am actively considering the possibility of re-opening AEOS this year to allow for the submission of applications either on an amended basis from the existing scheme and/or on a limited scale. 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.