A 2012 AEOS scheme which farmers can apply for before the end of September is the objective of Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
“At the moment we cannot afford to put together an AEOS scheme that will cost as much as the AEOS scheme I introduced last year,” said Mr Coveney in the Dáil, in response to a question from Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Michael Moynihan.
“So, instead of opening it in May, we are hoping to get sanction from the Department of Finance to open a much more limited scheme, which I have discussed with farm organisations repeatedly,” said the minister.
“We will have to make substantial savings again this year, in terms of the budgetary ceiling under which I must operate, unless I can negotiate an increase in that ceiling.
“If there is a new scheme, I want it to prioritise farmers who are working in SAC, Natura or commonage areas. In some cases, those categories are farming under severe restrictions in terms of what they can produce and the kind of stocking rate at which they can produce. There should be some recognition of that. In addition, they have a specific obligation to look after the environment because of the sensitivity of the land they are farming,” said Mr Coveney.
However, it will be a matter of whether we have the budget to do it, as to whether we can broaden it outside those categories.
“The idea that we would not have any environmental scheme available to which farmers could apply would be a very negative move. Even though we have severe budgetary challenges to overcome in my department, as has every other minister, I want to try to put some limited scheme in place that would allow farmers to apply for an environmental scheme that, hopefully, we will be able to expand and develop in future years.”
There are currently about 15,000 participants in AEOS 1 and 11. A total of 6,894 applications were received under AEOS II, and 6,615 applicants have been approved into the scheme.
All successful applicants have now been informed of their approval into the scheme.
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