A range of new agri environmental initiatives announced by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue in Budget 2021 are to be funded from the EU’s COVID-19 recovery fund.

The EU plans to roll out a €750bn Next Generation EU (NGEU) fund next year in response to the coronavirus crisis, with €7.5bn allocated for rural development spending across the EU.

Ireland has received a €194m rural development allocation. The Department of Agriculture has made plans to draw down €56m from the fund next year, just shy of 30% of the allocation.

Negotiations around the final details of the fund are still ongoing, but the Department has identified a number of areas where the additional money could be spent.

New schemes

It told the Irish Farmers Journal: “These include an increase in funding for the organic farming sector, a baseline farm environmental study and soil sampling programme, €10m for environment actions in the tillage sector, a pilot on a results-based scheme, up-skilling of farmers and advisors (€14m) to meet biodiversity, climate and environmental challenges, and health and safety.”

These actions will inform the development of a “major new environmental scheme for agriculture following on from GLAS” and eco-schemes.

The Department of Agriculture has made plans to draw down €56m from the fund next year

Exact details of the schemes and their allocations will be worked out when there is more clarity around the exact conditions attached to the NGEU funding and CAP transitional rules, the Department said.

It expects agreement on outstanding technical issues over the coming weeks with the rules finalised in mid-December and published by the end of the year.

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