Burren Conservation Programme included in New Rural Development Programme – BREEN

January 23rd, 2014 - Pat Breen

Clare T.D. and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen T.D. has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Simon Coveney, T.D., that €12.5 Billion of funds will be sanctioned through the Irish Government and the CAP’s Pillar II programme. Commenting on the news Deputy Breen said that inclusion of Burren Conservation Programme in the new Rural Development Programme and the proposals to introduce a new agri environment scheme were particularly welcome.

“I am in regular contact with the farming community and I am very much aware to the challenges facing farm families at this time. Indeed, the recent storm has placed Clare farmers until further pressures with thousands of acres of land now under water.

Over the past year, I have been working with the various Farming Organisations and have been in regular discussions with Minister Coveney to ensure a fair distribution of funds were sanctioned for Pillar II and I would like to thank Minister Coveney for all the hard work that has been involved in securing this funding.

I particularly welcome the measures to be included under the Rural Development Programme for 2014-2- especially the introduction of a new Agri-Environment/Climate Scheme GLAS and the proposals to include the Burren Farming for Conversation Programme in the Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020.

There was a very good uptake from Clare Farmers for the previous REPS and AEOS Scheme and the GLAS scheme will build on the progress made under these schemes. A maximum payment of €5,000 per farmer will apply and it is expected that there will be up to 50,000 farmers participating at its peak and I expect that this will include a significant number of Clare Farmers.

Including the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme the Rural Development Programme is especially welcome. The farmers in this area of North Clare have a real appreciation of the unique landscape of the Burren and overtime they have developed methods of farming which has delivered significant environmental benefits including improved water quality and the protection of the Burren’s natural wildlife.

The Administrators of this Programme will now be invited to participate in the consultation process which the Department of Agriculture is undertaking in order to develop the new Programme which will run from 2014-2020. Following the outcome of this consultation process, Ireland will be required by the EU Commission to undertake a number of key steps and in preparation for this, the Department of Agriculture will be carrying out an in-depth evaluation on a draft version of the new Rural Development Programme and independent evaluators have been engaged to undertake this work. On Completion of this process, a draft RDP will be submitted to the Commission for consultation and approval. And I understand that it is anticipated that the draft will be submitted to the Commission in late spring and that a period of consultation will follow over the coming months.

Up to 160 farmers have benefitted from the current Programme and I would hope that this Scheme can be extended further under the New Programme and that more farmers will be able to benefit.

With approximately 85% of produce from Irish farms being exported, it was important that our allocation was in line with the requirement to sustain our farming communities and I commend Minister Coveney for his continued commitment to Irish Farming.”