A statement issued by Minister of State Andrew Doyle said that Budget 2018 provides new opportunities, builds competitiveness and protects the agri-food and fisheries sector in the face of the Brexit challenge.
Minister Doyle welcomed the support for the Rural Development Programme (RDP), with an increase of spending to bring the programme to €626m in 2018 and the increase of €25m in the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme, honouring a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government.
The main sectors he discussed were forestry, horticulture, organic farming and the greyhound industry.
“2018 will see continued major investment in forestry with an allocation of €106m available for forestry development, in line with the Forestry Programme 2014-2020, recognising the role of forestry in helping to achieve climate change targets. This allocation will allow for the planting of over 6,600ha of forests next year and is, in fact, an increase in the budget over what was spent in the last three years. There is also funding provided for over 100km of new forest roads,” Minister Doyle said.
In relation to the commercial horticulture sector, he said that there would be an increase in funding, secured last year, with a budget of €5m in funding for capital investments agreedin Budget 2018. “Processors of horticultural produce will qualify for the Brexit Loan Scheme and an additional loan scheme for primary producers, including horticulture producers is to be considered for next year.”
A value of €11.7m is available for the organic farming sector in 2018 divided into €10.5m for the Organic Farming Scheme and a further €1.2m for the Scheme of Grant Aid for the Development of the Organic Processing Industry.
This will provide for ongoing support to over 1,700 organic farmers, the Minister said, as well as additional support, of over €1m, being made available to organic farmers under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) organic capital investment scheme. “With 72,000ha of land now under production, we have met all targets set within our RDP and the emphasis is now on developing sustainable markets for our increased volume of organic product.”
Finally, the Minister outlined the funding secured for the greyhound industry in Ireland, which, he says, has the highest standards of integrity founded on strong regulatory systems and robust animal-welfare controls.
“The allocation of €16m for the industry for 2018 will ultimately provide a platform to improve its contribution to the economy. This will be further enhanced by the Greyhound Industry Bill which has progressed through pre-legislative scrutiny stage and which I intend to further advance through the Oireachtas this autumn,” the Minister concluded.