Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is considering a range of possibilities to support Island farmers in the new Rural Development Programme (RDP).

He said this in response to a parliamentary question from Deputy Eamon O’Cuiv recently.

The minister outlined the deadline for receipt of written submissions in relation to the proposed RDP measures was 19 February. The findings from this process, as well as feedback received from a range of meetings with stakeholders, is currently being examined as part of the design process for RDP measures.

He said: “A number of possibilities for the delivery of support for island farmers are being considered as part of this process. These include the provision of a specified category for island farmers within the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme, and the possibility of focusing on specific issues facing island farmers via proposed locally led and output based environmental projects or the establishment of operational groups under the European Innovation Partnership.”

Minister Coveney also highlighted: “It will of course also be open to island farmers to apply to the range of other proposed RDP measures.”

It was back in early January when the minister announced details in relation to proposed measure outlines for inclusion in the new RDP for the period 2014-2020 as well as an outline of the national exchequer funding for the new RDP.

As part of the proposed measures, support for island farmers was included in the consultation paper on the new RDP published in January.

The minister noted: “The rationale for this proposed support is based on the particular constraints faced by island farmers such as isolation, high infrastructure and transport costs, land quality issues and income/viability issues.”

He added: “No decision has been made in relation to the specific form that support for island farmers will take. Work in relation to the design of the new RDP measures is continuing in my department as a matter of priority.”