Launch of Agri-Environment Options Scheme for farmers
The launch of the Department of Agriculture’s new €50 million Agri-Environment Options Scheme signals good news for farmers.
That is according to local Fianna Fáil TD and member of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee Bobby Aylward.
Deputy Aylward said that with the closure of REPS, the Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith, worked hard to find a suitable substitute for farmers.
“The New Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) is a different approach to the rural environment where farmers will be paid to undertake identifiable and verifiable environmental measures that will result in tangible and worthwhile environmental benefits.
“The funding for the AEOS will come from modulated funds that were negotiated as part of the CAP health check. The funding will also be topped up significantly by the Irish Government.
“The modulated funds from CAP must be spent on what the EU has identified as ‘new challenges’ and include biodiversity, water management, and climate change. The resulting effects are required to be achieved are specified,” said Deputy Aylward.
The available fund of €50 million for the scheme will mean that each of the up to 10,000 applicants will be able to avail of a maximum payment of €5,000.
The amount of funding awarded to an individual farmer will depend on the amount of action undertaken. The Minister for Agriculture has indicated that he expects that most farmers will reach, or come very close to reaching, the maximum payment of €5,000.
“Only farmers with Natura land or non-Natura commonage will have to follow a ‘Suitable Management Plan’ which will be much simpler and more cost-effective than REPS plans.
“Those applicants without this type of land will not be required to engage a planner to complete their application forms. REPS is continuing and all of those who joined REPS 4 in 2009 will be allowed to complete their full five-year contracts, and this year the Department will spend €330 million on REPS.”
“The AEOS application form is as simple and straightforward as possible. The Department will be starting a nationwide roadshow next week and farmers should check the Department website www.agriculture.gov.ie for details and further information on the scheme.”
“I am hopeful that Kilkenny farmers will be able to avail of this scheme before the closing date of May 17,” Deputy Aylward added.