ALMOST 6,000 applications under the new Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) have been approved, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith announced at the championships.
“This represents almost two-thirds of those who applied for AEOS. Farmers who get their letters of approval this week will be given contracts starting from September 1.
“I am very pleased that we have been able to process so many applications within a fairly tight time-frame,” he said.
Mr Smith said his officials were giving priority to processing the remaining applications with a view to issuing further approval as soon as possible. He said the high level of interest and take-up – about 9,200 applications were received – had shown AEOS was attractive and accessible.
“With its focus on biodiversity, water quality and climate change, AEOS will deliver significant environmental benefits over the coming years to the country as a whole and will provide a welcome income stream to the participating farmers and their families,” he said.
Mr Smith also confirmed existing REPS 3 and REPS 4 contracts will continue to be honoured in full. The processing of claims is ongoing and payments will issue over the coming months.
The minister also confirmed that agreement was reached in Brussels at the EU Direct Payments Management Committee to his request that provision be made for an advance payment in Ireland of the 2010 Single Payment. He said he was pleased at the positive response of the EU commissioner to his request and the level of support shown at the management committee meeting.
“The decision allows us to go ahead with an advance payment at a rate of 50% from October 18, to those whose applications have been fully cleared, with the balancing payments being made from December 1, as provided for in the regulations,” said Mr Smith.
He said these payments, and the payments under the disadvantaged areas scheme, which have commenced this week, together with the grassland sheep scheme payment (payable in December) will inject almost €1.5 billion into the Irish rural economy in the coming weeks and would provide a very welcome boost for Irish farm families, particularly at this time of the year.
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