Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
37. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has made any decisions regarding funding for the agri-environment options scheme 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14648/12]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): I would like, at the outset, to emphasise my commitment to the agri-environment schemes which put environmentally-friendly farming to the forefront and which recognise the vital role farmers play in delivering public goods for the benefit of all society. Both my own and the Government’s commitment in this regard are highlighted by the fact that despite the financial pressures facing my Department, I have made provision in 2012 for €243 million under agri-environment schemes. It is also the reason why, despite serious budgetary pressures, I reopened the Agri-Environment Options Scheme last year.
I am now considering the possibility of re-opening the Agri-Environment Options Scheme in 2012, possibly on an amended basis or on a limited scale and will make an announcement on the matter shortly. I am actively considering the various options for such a scheme but I am particularly concerned about the budgetary implications which will play an important part in any decision I take. The full year cost of funding a new scheme will fall to be met in 2013. Accordingly any decision will be taken in the context of my Department’s expenditure ceiling for 2013 as agreed by Government and, in particular, on how a new scheme might be funded within the reduced funding and the resulting pressures on the 2013 Vote for my Department.
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