Dáil Éireann - Volume 665 - 30 October, 2008

Written Answers. - Departmental Schemes.

[658] Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the damage to the future development of agriculture by the decision to axe the early retirement scheme and installation for young farmers; and if he will reverse the decision and ensure the continuation of these schemes. [37404/08]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: Given the public finances situation, my approach in preparing the 2009 estimates for my Department was to focus available resources on the measures that allow us to maintain and grow the productive capacity of the agri-food sector. Having chosen to protect expenditure in certain areas, savings had to be found in other areas to meet current budgetary requirements. In relation to the Scheme of Early Retirement from Farming and the Young Farmers’ Installation Scheme, I have made provision of €56.7 million to meet current commitments but this level of funding means that for the present, new applications for these schemes are suspended.

I am pleased to see that a number of farm tax measures worth over €65 million have been renewed in Budget 2009 to bring about improvements in land mobility. In addition, the top rate of stamp duty on agricultural land transactions is being reduced from 9% to 6% on amounts over €80,000 with effect from 15 October 2008.

Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the problems caused for those who had taken steps to enter the farm retirement scheme and who now find that the scheme has been suspended without notice; and if he will review his decision. [37369/08]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: Against the background of the deterioration in public finances, my approach in preparing the 2009 estimates for my Department was to focus available resources on the measures that allow us to maintain and grow the productive capacity of the agri-food sector. Because I had chosen to protect expenditure in certain areas, expenditure in other areas had to be curtailed. In relation to the Scheme of Early Retirement from Farming I have made provision to meet current commitments but, for the present, it has been necessary to suspend new applications to the Scheme.