Wednesday, 2 March 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
113. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the level of participation to date in REP scheme 3; if she is satisfied with this level of participation; her plans for the future of the REP scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6970/05]
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mary Coughlan): Up to last Friday, 25 February, over 17,000 applications have been received for REPS 3 since its introduction in June 2004. With some 27,000 farmers in REPS 2 this brings the overall participation level in REPS to approximately 44,000.
The level of applications received under REPS 3 compares very favourably with any similar time period since REPS began in 1994 and is very encouraging. I expect participation levels to surpass the previous peak of 45,500 by the middle of this year. My Department’s Vote for 2005 includes €271 million for REPS which represents an increase of 30% on the 2004 outturn and will, I believe, be sufficient to accommodate demand.
The current scheme is covered by EU Commission Regulation on Rural Development 1257/1999, which runs to the end of 2006. The next programming period will run from 2007 to 2013 and the regulations are already at an advanced stage of drafting. It is already clear that they will provide for agri-environment. The precise shape of the successor to REPS will be determined in the light of these regulations when they are finalised, but there is every reason to expect that we can make another scheme available that will be attractive to farmers while continuing to deliver environmental benefits and public good as well. In negotiating the terms of this new scheme and the level of EU funding for it with the Commission, it will be important to be able to point to REPS 3 as a success. It is important, therefore, that all parties including the farming organisations work to encourage and facilitate the highest possible take-up of the scheme for the remainder of the current period.
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