Thursday, 12 July 2012

Questions (208)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has received submissions form the Irish Farmers’ Association regarding alternative proposals in respect of improvements in the agri-environment options 3 scheme; if he has examined the potential and possible benefit to the economy in the context of these proposals with a view to implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34291/12]

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

I have received a number of representation regarding the reopening of the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) in 2012 including submissions from the Irish Farmers Association. My own and the Government's on-going commitment to agri-environmental schemes are evident in the funding of €243m which has been provided to meet commitments under Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) and AEOS in 2012. The commitment is also clear from the fact that despite serious budgetary pressures, I re-opened the AEOS to new entrants last year. Due to the on-going situation in the national finances, strict budgetary constraints remain in place and, as a result, management of the limited resources represents a very challenging situation involving difficult choices.

Nevertheless, I have examined the various submissions submitted to me and 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. I will make an announcement as soon as I have made my decision.