Thursday, 15 October 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
21. Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the measures he has put in place to support young farmers, both in terms of on-farm investment and the allocation of milk quota to new entrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36066/09]
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Brendan Smith): I have made provision of €9.75 million in 2009 to meet existing commitments under the Young Farmers’ Installation Scheme and the preceding equivalent schemes. In addition, I have recently announced my intention to introduce a new range of aid measures in relation to on-farm investments, some of which will be particularly targeted at young farmers. These measures will be introduced as soon as EU approval is received for the measures in question and following agreement on the specific cash-limits available for each measure.
The allocation of milk quota to new entrants to dairying has been a key component of milk policy for some time, and I am glad to say that the long-standing arrangements for making quota available to new entrants under the Milk Quota Trading Scheme have been significantly enhanced recently with the allocation of 200,000 litres of milk quota to 70 new entrants to dairying. As the Deputy will be aware, the first of five annual one per cent increases in quota agreed under last November’s Health Check of the CAP reform became available on 1 April of this year. In addition to using three-quarters of this increase to boost the quotas of active milk producers, I decided that, at a time when the dairy sector is facing many serious challenges, it was more important than ever to make every effort to encourage new thinking and new methods.
All in the industry are agreed on the importance of attracting new blood, so I decided to introduce a new scheme, on a pilot basis, that would make a serious effort to identify people who have a future in dairying and can demonstrate not just their potential but also their commitment to the sector. While the amount of quota that was available was limited, I am satisfied that the 14 million litres that has been allocated under the scheme has gone to high quality applicants, and I look forward to learning of the positive impact they will have on the sector in the coming years. I have also stated my intention to consider, in the context of the availability of a further one per cent of additional quota in 2010, what further potential may be available to expand the eligibility for the scheme to new and recent entrants next year following a review of this scheme.
I should also take the opportunity to emphasise what I alluded to earlier, namely, that the allocation of milk quota to new entrants continues under the Milk Quota Trading Scheme, as it did previously under the Restructuring Scheme. Since the inception of the Trading Scheme in 2007 alone, more than 60 million litres of milk quota has made its way into the hands of young farmers, and they currently have an opportunity to further augment that figure under the latest phase of the Trading Scheme, which closes for applications on 23 October.
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