Minister Killeen Comments On 2009 Spending To Support The Agri-Food Sector
Junior Agriculture Minister and Clare T.D., Mr. Tony Killeen has stated that efforts to restore stability to the public finances would impact in the short term on expenditure on certain measures for the agriculture, fisheries and food sector.
[ClickPress, Wed Oct 22 2008] Backing up comments made this week by the Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith, the Minister with special responsibility for Fisheries and Forestry said that the Government had been left no choice but to take difficult decisions on public expenditure levels.
Minister Killeen pointed out that the Government had committed high levels of public funds to the development of the sector in recent years.
He said, “Among the programmes in receipt of significant funds are the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) and the new EUR250 million Suckler Cow Scheme. Meanwhile, expenditure for the Farm Waste Management Scheme in 2008 will exceed EUR375 million following the provision of the additional EUR195 million in recent weeks.”
He added that his colleague Minister Smith intended to ensure the development of a productive and competitive sector into the future.
“Minister Smith and I believe that farmers and the wider rural community are willing to play their part in accepting certain cutbacks, which will allow the economy to emerge from this extremely difficult period of global turmoil and be restored to its growth path. Minister Smith, therefore, has taken decisions that have involved difficult choices in order to ensure funding for schemes, which he has identified as priorities”, Minister of State Killeen explained.
He continued, “The harsh reality is that having chosen to protect expenditure in certain areas, savings had to be found in other areas to meet current budgetary constraints. Reluctantly Minister Smith has had to reduce expenditure under the scheme of Area-Based Compensatory payments. Nevertheless, the Department will be making payments of over EUR220 million under this scheme next year and the reduction will be implemented in a targeted way with the majority of farmers not suffering any loss in their payments.”
Meanwhile, the Department announced this week that it had provided almost EUR57 million for commitments under the Early Retirement and Young Farmer Installation Schemes but this level of funding meant that for the present, new applications for these schemes were suspended.
“This decision can obviously be reviewed for future years but in the meantime a number of farm tax measures worth over EUR65 million were renewed in Budget 2009 to bring about improvements in land mobility that will, in turn improve productivity and efficiency”, stated Minister Killeen.
Elsewhere, the top rate of stamp duty on agricultural land transactions is being reduced from 9% to 6% on amounts over EUR80,000 with effect from 15 October last. The reduction in the Department of Agriculture’s contribution to the cost of the Fallen Animals Scheme took account of the fall in the incidence of BSE, the increased outlets for meat and bone meal and the savings from the expected increase in the testing age for BSE to 48 months early next year.
“I welcome Minister Smith’s confirmation that he will continue to do all he can to ensure the delivery of the type of supports necessary for our most important indigenous industry. In this context, I am glad that the Department was able to deliver the early payment of an advance of the Single Payment, which provides total annual support of EUR1.3 billion to Irish agriculture. In County Clare, farmers are due to receive advance payments totalling EUR22.54m.”
Notes to Editor:
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