Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

11 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the grant assistance that was and is available to apple growers for replanting of apple trees. [19179/03]

Under the terms of the farm improvement programme approved apple growers received grant aid to plant trees. This programme commenced in the 1970s and continued for a number of years. However, EU policy in more recent years has sought to address a mismatch between supply and demand and to improve Community production of apples and other fruits. In pursuit of this policy a premium was granted at EU level for the grubbing up of apple trees, excluding cider trees, on condition that applicants undertook to refrain from replanting any trees for a period of at least 15 years. A number of Irish growers availed of this measure while it applied. Accordingly, there is no EU aid for the replanting of apple trees. In applying grant schemes at domestic level it became necessary, therefore, to ensure that schemes for the grant aid of horticulture during the last decade were compatible with broader EU considerations.

The domestic apple-producing sector continues to be supported in areas other than replanting. Under round one – 2001-02 – of the NDP scheme of investment aid for the development of the commercial horticulture sector, five apple producers were approved for investment worth €205,000 in equipment. Under round two, this year investments of €73,000 in four apple projects have been approved. In addition, a producer group consisting mainly of apple growers has been in receipt of substantial EU funding on an ongoing basis in support of its operational programme and intervention activities.