The Vote of the Department in 2015 will amount to €1,251 million, comprising €1,036 million in current expenditure and €215 million in capital expenditure. This is an increase overall of €32 million compared to the 2014 budget. In addition, I will also be providing off Vote for payments amounting to €1,215 million towards the single farm payment in 2015, giving total funding for the year of €2,460 million.
The Government has prioritised agriculture and food as a major economic driver for the Irish economy. The Programme for Government set out a strategy for growing the agri-food sector and much has been achieved. The sector continued to perform strongly throughout the economic downturn, outperforming other sectors in terms of export growth and it has made a significant contribution to the overall economic recovery already underway. Food and drinks exports reached an all-time high of some €10 billion in 2013, a 40% increase in value terms since 2009. However, there are challenges ahead and the measures announced as part of Budget 2015 form part of the policy response to those challenges.
Farm Safety Scheme: € 12 Million
Funding of €12 million is allocated to a new once-off Farm Safety Scheme. The scheme, subject to EU approval, will shortly be open for applications, with a grant rate of 40% up to a maximum eligible investment ceiling of €20,000. The Minister was particularly anxious to acknowledge the very high level of risk on farms and this targeted scheme is aimed at providing a once-off opportunity to farmers to upgrade safety arrangements on their farms.
Agri-Environment: € 150 Million
A total fund of €150 million has been allocated in 2015 to agri-environment schemes with funding dominated by REPS and AEOS, together amounting to some €122 million. The key budget provision for 2015 is the allocation to GLAS (Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme), which is designed to build on the success of REPS and AEOS to encourage farmers to farm in an environmentally friendly manner. GLAS will be a five year scheme with a maximum payment of €5,000 per annum, with the potential to qualify for a top-up payment of up to €2000. The scheme will eventually facilitate the entry of 50,000 farmers. Funding in 2015 provides for the opening of the scheme to some 30,000 entrants. This scheme, when fully open, will require funding of €150 million and will represent a significant scaling up in funding in 2016 (with 50,000 farmers this will be up to € 250 million).
Animal Welfare: € 5 Million
Following the animal welfare conference earlier this year the Minister met with representatives of the traveller community and, as a result has allocated an extra €1million to support the development of new facilities to provide shelter for the urban horse population and to encourage young people in the care and welfare of horses. This fund will target establishing shelters, in association with Local Authorities, in a number of locations in 2015. Further allocations will be provided for new centres in future years. This funding is additional to the €1.8 million being allocated to the control of horses scheme and the €2.1 million allocated to support voluntary organisations in their animal welfare work.
CEDRA Report: € 1 Million
An allocation of €1 million has been made towards the establishment of a Rural Innovation and Development Fund to support innovative and small scale pilot initiatives under the CEDRA report.
Pigs and Poultry
Funding towards investments in upgrading existing buildings will be provided in the new TAMS scheme.
Tuesday october 14, 2014/ Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine/ Ireland.