I understand that the Deputy’s Question is in the context of the preparation of a new Rural Development Programme. Preparatory work for the next RDP 2014 – 2020 is well underway. Measures to be included in the new programme will be considered in the context of the governing European Union Regulations, the outcome of the consultation process, the challenges we continue to face in terms of the public finances, and the requirement to balance competing needs both within the agricultural sector and in the economy as a whole.
An initial consultation process was launched in 2012, and written submissions were received from over 80 stakeholders. A second consultation was held in July, where stakeholders attended a full day workshop on the draft SWOT and needs analyses. Based on the outcome of these processes, the drafting of a new programme is being advanced in my Department, and it is intended that further stakeholder consultation will form part of this. Any submissions in relation to island agriculture will be considered in this context and in light of competing demands in the RDP.