TOTAL expenditure by his department in support of agriculture, fisheries and food will amount to over €3.3 billion this year, Minister Brendan Smith has disclosed.
The figure is comprised of the department’s e1.9bn budget allocation and European Union funding of e1.4bn.
His department’s allocation represents an increase of e182 million on the amount provided in last October’s budget.
This was due to additional agreed funding for the Pigmeat Recall Scheme and the arrangements to pay 40% of the remaining 17,000 grants this year under the Farm Waste Management Scheme.
Mr Smith said his department is allocating e165m to provide financial assistance towards the costs associated with restoring market confidence following the discovery of dioxins in certain pigmeat last December. This is in addition to e35m provided to the sector in December.
He said this was essential expenditure to secure the future of the Irish pig production and processing industry, worth e1.1bn annually.
Mr Smith said he was also providing an additional e2.5m to An Bord Bia to assist in its vital work in promoting Irish food exports in overseas markets.
Bord Bia’s work was more important than ever in the current economic climate, not least following the pigmeat dioxin issue, he said.
Reductions in expenditure announced by the minister include a 17% cut in REPS 4, the cessation from next Tuesday of his department’s contribution to the fallen animals’ scheme and an 8% reduction in the rate of forestry premia. However, he decided that the rate of payment for 2009 in the suckler cow welfare scheme will be e40 per animal, to be paid in 2010.
Mr Smith said his department would also be advancing its own efficiency programme.
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association Jackie Cahill said the budget had again fallen on the sector in a disproportionate and counter-productive manner.
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