Minister: €879 million in farm supports allocated for 2021

Budget 2021 has provided for continued farm supports of €879 million in 2021, including more than €628 million for the Rural Development Programme (RDP), Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced.

This will provide funding for the continuation of existing schemes during the transition to the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with the current CAP scheduled to end in the new year.

Commenting today (Thursday, October 15), Minister McConalogue said: “My first priority in this budget on agri-environment funding was to ensure that this transition to the next CAP ran smoothly and that farmers could continue to access current schemes next year without interruption.”

This is the first time that farmers in large-scale schemes such as the Green, Low-carbon, Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS) have this kind of continuity in the transition between CAP periods, he added.

The minister confirmed that his department is extending existing Rural Development Programme (RDP) schemes including: Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC); GLAS; Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP); Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS); Organic Farming Scheme (OFS); Burren Programme, support for setting up Beef Producer Organisations (BPOs); Targeted Advisor Service for Animal Health (TASAH); GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings (GTFB); and Collaborative Farming.

The department will now seek formal approval from the European Commission for the adjustment to the duration of the existing RDP schemes, in line with EU rules over the coming months.

Continuing, the minister said: “The budget allocation will now enable Ireland to drawdown all the EU funding for rural development at the earliest opportunity to allow us to continue to support the farming sector in these uncertain times.

“It also helps us to continue the environmental benefits under our schemes.

GLAS delivers significant levels of benefits including 60,500ha of Traditional Hay Meadows, 250,000ha of Low Input Permanent Pasture, 18,600ha of wild bird cover.

“Over 1.5 million trees and 1.1 million metres of new hedgerows have been planted and maintained over the course of the scheme together with over 430,000 bee, bird and bat boxes.’’

The minister also confirmed an additional €79 million for Agri Environment and Farm Safety initiatives, and that he would be seeking approval from the EU Commission to implement these through a revised RDP.

He said that while work was underway to define the precise nature of the measures to be included, it was, subject to EU approval, intended to provide for a variety of measures.

These include:
  • A pilot results-based scheme with a significant focus on biodiversity and climate change. This will be directed at farmers not currently in GLAS, to increase the number of farmers participating in agri-environment schemes and inform the development of a new agri-environment measure on a national scale;
  • New actions that would allow farmers to increase their environmental ambition, with €10 million ring fenced for the tillage sector;
  • €4 million to allow for a 30% increase in funding to support organic farmers;
  • €12 million for farmer training, with a focus on biodiversity improvement and farm safety.

“I am very pleased that we delivered on both and have set ourselves on a clear strategic pathway for the next CAP and to address critical environmental and climate change issues,” the minister concluded.