Dáil Éireann - Volume 307 - 20 June, 1978

Written Answers . - Farm Modernisation Scheme .

149. Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture the number of farmers who have been allowed into the development category of the Farm Modernisation Scheme although their income exceeded the comparable income, under the provision that they may be so admitted if their income is deemed unlikely to be maintained at that level, without structural improvement or modernisation of the farm; and the criteria used in making such decisions.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Gibbons): Up to 31 March 1978, 12 [1431] farmers were so admitted to the scheme. The decision in each case depends on the particular circumstances of the applicant. Some of the factors likely to affect the decision would be an exceptionally high level of borrowing, the uncertainty inherent in a high degree of dependence on land taken on the 11 month system, excessive fragmentation which would limit efficient management and productivity and of course the extent to which the current income level exceeds that of the comparable income.

150. Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture the number of farm groups which have been assisted under Part VI of the farm modernisation scheme in Ireland and in each of the other EEC countries since its inception; and if he is satisfied that adequate promotional effort has been made in regard to this part of the scheme in this country.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Gibbons): Up to the present no firm application has been received but it is evident from the volume of enquiries [1432] in recent months that interest in the formation of farm groups is growing. Appropriate promotion of all aspects of the farm modernisation scheme is undertaken periodically.

The information requested in relation to other EEC member countries is not readily available but if it can be procured I will arrange to have it supplied to the Deputy.

151. Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture the total amount spent by farmers, the total amount of grants paid by the Government and the total amount recouped from the EEC, under the farm modernisation scheme, on (a) fixed assets, other than land improvement; (b) land improvement works; (c) purchase of stock; and ment; and (d) purchase of stock; and if, in view of the trends revealed so far, it is his policy to give greater encouragement in the farm planning process to any one of the above-mentioned headings of investment.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Gibbons): The information requested is set out below in tabular form.

Farm Modernisation Scheme: 1 February 1974—31 December 1977

Total amount spent by farmers

Total grants paid by Government

Total recouped from EEC

£

£

£

(a) Fixed assets other than land improvement

110,826,426

30,050,473

1,007,635

(b) Land improvement works

17,459,289

7,902,454

85,306

(c) Purchase of mobile equipment

7,859,554

962,854

17,693

(d) Purchase of stock

99,529

6,962

Notes:

(1) The amount spent by farmers relates to works completed and certified for grant payment by 31 December 1977.

(2) The grants paid for mobile equipment include £555,794 for purchase of fodder machinery by farm groups in the disadvantaged areas.

(3) The total recouped from the EEC includes full reimbursement on 1975 expenditure and a payment on account in respect of 1976 expenditure.

In the farm planning process, the particular circumstances of each individual farmer will determine the emphasis placed on particular items of investment.

152. Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture if the information given in the reply to question 104 of 1 June 1978, that only 272 farmers need only 5,787 extra acres, as confirmed by their development plan, is a realistic reflection of the need of small farmers in the farm modernisation scheme for extra land to enable them to reach the comparable income; if not, if he is satisfied that development plans are being drawn up in such a way as to reveal the true situation of small farmers as to their need for [1433] extra land; if it is the practice to seek statements in development plans regarding the need for extra land only where land is already available to meet it under the farm retirement scheme; and if he considers that sources of land additional to the farm retirement scheme should be made available to meet the true land needs of farmers in the farm modernisation scheme.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Gibbons): The figure of 272 farmers relates only to situations where land vacated by farmers under the farmers retirement scheme is available for re-distribution. I am satisfied that a far greater number of small farmers could benefit, by way of improved incomes, from receiving additional land. While potential development farmers with land requirements have priority access to lands surrendered under the retirement scheme, they are also considered for lands available for distribution by the Land Commission in the normal way. As I indicated in my statement in the Dáil on the introduction of the Land Bond Bill, 1978, I am currently examining all aspects of land policy with a view to presenting new legislative proposals.