Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (44)

Timmy Dooley


44. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the anticipated impact of all the cuts arising from budget 2013 on farm income. [55962/12]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The budget for my Department in 2013 was largely determined by the gross expenditure ceilings that were allocated to all Departments under the Government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework, 2012-2014. The Department’s 2013 Exchequer allocation is €1.25 billion, including €6m capital carry-over from 2012. The original budget reduction envisaged for my Department for 2013 under the expenditure ceiling was €114 million. Through negotiation with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I secured much-needed additional capital funding of €25m, including the carry-over, thus reducing the cut in expenditure from 2012 to 2013 to €89m.

In allocating the available funding, I was determined to minimise the impact of the scale of the reduction so that the most important schemes and programmes were protected to the greatest extent possible. Through re-orientating and re-scheduling payments, I have also managed to fund some new worthwhile programmes while remaining within the financial constraints. In overall terms, the 2013 Estimate for my Department represents a significant Exchequer commitment of support for the agri-food sector and is recognition of the contribution which the sector can make to economic recovery and future growth. My priorities are to:

- Protect the incomes of family farms

- favour small farm holdings in disadvantaged areas

- provide taxation measures to restructure, modernise and promote growth in the agri-food and farming sector

- provide support programmes in line with the targets of Food Harvest 2020, in particular job creation

- support the future of the sector through funding for research and development and through investment in food safety and animal health and welfare controls

- continue a programme of reform within the Department aimed at improving service delivery and reducing costs.

In specific terms, I have:

- minimised reductions in expenditure in the Disadvantaged Areas Schemes while protecting the most disadvantaged from any cut,

- replaced the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme with a new measure and

- avoided any cut in REPS payments by restructuring payments in 2013 and early 2014.

At the same time, I have provided funding for new producer group activities in the sheep and dairy sectors while the additional funding for capital which I have secured will enable my Department to continue to implement a range of schemes including forestry planting and the schemes for on-farm investment.

I believe that the outlook for the agri-food sector remains very bright and the sector will continue to contribute strongly to national economic recovery. There is a new awareness of the vital economic importance of the sector and a strong recognition that the sector has the fundamental building blocks in place to reach the demanding targets it has set itself in Food Harvest 2020, a blueprint that will contribute hugely to the growth in food and drink exports and to national prosperity. I am confident that the measures introduced in Budget 2013, in a very challenging fiscal environment, will help us to continue on this path towards national recovery.