Just over €31m paid to Meath farmers under 2016 Basic Payment Scheme – English

Farming, Food, Funding, Meath, Trim, Wesmeath

Monday, 24th October 2016

Fine Gael T.D. for Meath West and local Minister Damien English T.D.
has confirmed that just over €31 million has been paid out to farmers
in Co. Meath under the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has confirmed to me
that €31,098,025 has been paid out to farmers in Meath under the 2016
Basic Payment Scheme. Nationally, payments worth over €714 million
began issuing to in excess of 109,000 farmers last week.

“The Department has received 3,959 applications from Meath farmers
under the Basic Payment Scheme, with 3,354 paid out so far to the tune
of €31,098,025.

“In times of price volatility for farmers, it is crucial that these
payments are issued in the most efficient way possible to farmers here
in Meath who so depend on them. Minister Creed has prioritised the
delivery of these payments at the earliest possible date allowable
under EU legislation and it is good to note also that with the move to
full online application by 2018, the Department of Agriculture will be
able to introduce further efficiencies into the processing of
payments. This will make life a lot easier for farmers here in Meath.

“Minister Creed also confirmed that payments to farmers under the
Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme also continue to issue as
cases are confirmed for payment. Under the ANC Scheme, €177 million
has now issued to some 82,000 farmers since payments commenced on 20th
September. The advance BPS payment and the ANC payments taken together
mean that over €890M has now issued to Irish farmers in the last
month. Payments under the Young Farmers Scheme and the coupled Protein
Aid will commence in December 2016.

“Advance payments will continue issuing regularly until late November,
with balancing payments to issue from the 1st of December.  Any farmer
with a question in relation to their BPS or ANC payments, can contact
the Department at 076 106 4420. This helpline is running extended
hours- from 17th October to 29th October, farmers can ring the
Department between 9am and 8.30pm on weekdays and from 9am to 1pm on
Saturdays. I encourage any Meath farmer with a query about their
payment to contact this helpline, which is of great support to farm
families around the country.”


National Ploughing Championships 2016

Action Plan for Housing, Farming, Food, Housing and Urban Renewal, Meath, Wesmeath

At the National Ploughing Championships today in Tullamore to launch a €100k prize for innovative designs for housing for older people.  Great to meet many exhibitors, participants and visitors from Meath and beyond, and from the farming sector and outside of it too.  This a really great national gathering not just for rural dwellers and the agri-sector but for all Irish people.

For more pictures check out my Facebook page here:


Or on my Twitter feed:



English confirms €49,500 capital funding boost for Tourism in Meath

Food, Funding, Heritage, Meath, Tourism

5,000 years of innovation and food production in Co. Meath will be
celebrated with a €49,500 capital investment in ‘Ireland’s Ancient’s
Eats’, Co. Meath’s new attraction on the Ireland’s Ancient East
tourism trail, which serves as an East coast counter balance to the
hugely success Wild Atlantic Way on the West coast.

The new project will provide a rich and immersive experience based on
the history and heritage of food in the Boyne Valley. Visitors will
learn about the timeline of Irish food from ancient times, the story
of farming in an Irish context and will gain insight into ‘old school’
traditional methods of food production. They will also take part in
the cooking and consumption of locally-sourced traditional food.
Project elements include the refurbishment of a building into a
visitor reception facility, reconstruction of a ‘fulacht fiadh’
(outdoor oven), landscaping and furnishings.

“This capital funding of €49,500 from Government enhances the tourism
offering of Co. Meath.  It plays to our strengths as a centre of high
quality food, and reminds us of our rich history of food innovation
and food production dating back 5,000 years, as we embark on our
modern Boyne Valley Food Hub innovation project under the leadership
of Gary O’Meara in Meath Enterprise” stated Minister English.

Basic Farm Payments of almost €44.5m supporting farmers in Meath – English

Farming, Food, Funding

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation and Fine Gael TD for Meath West, Damien English, has said that Basic Farm Payments of almost €44.5 million paid so far in 2015, are supporting Meath farmers.

“In Meath, 3,483 farmers have received Basic Farm Payments so far in 2015, making up 95.9% of payments. In 2016, €1.2 billion in direct funding will be made available from the EU to fund the Basic Payment Scheme nationally.

“This money is essential to support agriculture and farming families in Meath. Basic Farm Payments are also key to supporting the local economy as farmers can spend this money with local suppliers and in small businesses.

“The food industry in Ireland is worth €26 billion and directly employs 170,000 people. Farmers are at the centre of this and it is essential that we offer every support possible.  For two successive budgets farming agri-taxation measures have played a central part in the Budget.

“Major new initiatives on ‘Family Transfer Partnerships’ have been introduced to assist in the transfer of land. We have also renewed relief measures on general stock income tax; for young trained farmers and registered farm partnerships. Stamp duty exemptions have been maintained on transfers of land to young trained farmers. This Government has also increased the tax free threshold for Capital Acquisitions Tax by about one quarter from €225,000 to €280,000.

“Changes made to the taxation of the self-employed will impact on most farmers who will benefit from the new €550 tax credit and reduced USC rates. These changes will mean over €800 in additional net income.

“In 2016, €494 million has been ring-fenced for the Rural Development Programme, a 12% increase; €195 million for Areas of Natural Constraint (ANCs); €35.8 million for TAMS, €52 million for the Beef Data Genomics Programme and €203 million for Agri–Environment Schemes including GLAS, AEOS  and ORGANICS.

“This Government has prioritised agriculture and makes no apology for that. The agri-food sector has been essential in driving the recovery and is playing a major role as we work to keep the recovery going in Meath and in all parts of the country.”

Minister English welcomes 2nd phase of GLAS scheme

Farming, Food, Funding, Meath, Wesmeath

Local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation and Meath West Fine Gael T.D. Damien English has welcomed the launch this week of the second tranche of GLAS, the new agri-environmental scheme which replaces REPS and AEOS.

The first tranche of GLAS, which closed on 26 May this year, proved a huge success, attracting almost 27,000 applications. The second tranche will increase this to at least 35,000 and up to 40,000. The overall target for GLAS is to attract 50,000 farmers into the new scheme over its lifetime and Minister English commented that it was clear that GLAS was well on its way to meeting that target.

For the second tranche of GLAS, a number of adjustments to the available actions are being made, and farmers and their advisors are urged to familiarise themselves with them.

Minister English commented: “The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney T.D. has announced that he is publishing the Terms and Conditions for the second Tranche of GLAS immediately, along with the detailed Specification for Tranche 2 actions.  Farmers and their advisors in Meath West should read these carefully.  The live system for applications will then be opened will remain open for some six weeks. I urge Meath and Westmeath farmers to apply. As I have often said before the export value of Agricultural products is worth €493.8m to Meath and €216m to Westmeath. Agriculture is a huge industry locally & it supports thousands of direct & indirect jobs locally. GLAS and other iniatives from this Government help and support this important work by local farmers.”

Minister English meets with IFA in advance of Budget 2016

Farming, Food, Meath, Wesmeath
IFA Briefing for Budget 2016 at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 29 September 2015. Photography by Brendan Duffy.

IFA Briefing for Budget 2016 at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 29 September 2015.
Photography by Brendan Duffy.

It was great to meet with the IFA locally and nationally today Tuesday 29th September in advance of Budget 2016.

Agriculture, and the wider agri-food sector is a major part of the Meath West economy, but it is often undersold, and under highlighted.

Thousands of jobs in Meath West are supported both on family farms, and in the wider food and drink processing sector.  The value of agri-related exports arising from product in Meath is almost €0.5 Billion.  In Co. Westmeath the value of agri-related exports arising from product in that County is almost €250 million.

This must be supported and encouraged into the future to promote even more local jobs and growth.

€500 million EU aid package will benefit farmers in Meath & Westmeath – Minister English

Farming, Food, Funding, Meath, Wesmeath

Minister Coveney working to negotiate a positive outcome for Irish farmers

Local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation and Meath West Fine Gael T.D. Damien English has said that a €500 million EU aid package for farmers will be of significant benefit for farmers in Counties Meath and Westmeath.

“The announcement of this €500 million EU aid package is good news for Meath West farmers. We are waiting to find out how much will be allocated to Irish farmers.

“This fund will be used to ensure the provision of a 70% rate of advance payment payable under the direct payment schemes. The package will also enable the introduction of APS (Aids to Private Storage) for cheese and pigmeat, with better conditions for APS for other products and the introduction of additional promotional measures. I also welcome the separate announcement by the European Commission that it will re-engage in discussions with the Russian authorities concerning the restrictions imposed on certain pigmeat products.

“Clarity is now needed on how this €500 million aid package will be disbursed between EU states. We also need to know full details of the measures the European Commission is envisaging to support the market In that respect.

“I welcome the commitment of my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney to negotiate a positive outcome for Irish farmers. I am glad that the European Commission has addressed most of the points made by Ireland in the six-point plan that Minister Coveney presented to the Commission and the Council last week.

“Fine Gael is standing up for rural Ireland and working hard to spread the fruits of the economic recovery across the country. The Party’s “Standing up for Rural Ireland” is focused on ensuring that the benefits of the economic recovery are felt in every town, village, parish and home across rural Meath and Westmeath.”


Local food processors urged to apply for new Organic grant aid scheme

Farming, Food, Funding

I wish to welcome the opening of the new Grant Aid Scheme for the Development of the Organic off-farm Processing Sector, and urge Meath based processors, who have shown a great interest in innovation and expansion, to apply.

The new scheme, which is wholly exchequer-funded, runs for the lifetime of the Rural Development Programme and will support investments for off-farm projects. Processors can apply for grants of up to €500,000 for investment in facilities for the processing, preparation, grading, packing and storage of organic products with minimum level of investment in excess of €3,000. €5m has been earmarked for the new scheme over its lifetime.

This Government is committed to developing the organic sector as an opportunity for the Irish agri-food sector in general and this Scheme is a further initiative to help existing organic processors meet the growing demand for organic food, both in Ireland and abroad.

Furthermore I am aware that many Meath companies have already made strides in this area, and will wish to continue to do so. Many Meath food companies have shown a flair for innovation in their enterprises, which as well as leading to new, local and sustainable jobs has resulted in Meath Enterprise, Meath County Council and industry partners seeking to make the County a Food Innovation and Research Hub of national and indeed international standing. I fully support these stakeholders in their efforts to create the Boyne Valley Food Hub.

Substantial support for organic farmers already exists through the new TAMS Organic Capital Investment Scheme which was launched recently and this new off-farm scheme now offers similar support for the organic processing sector.

Copies of the terms and conditions of the new Grant Scheme, together with application forms, are available from the Organic Farming Unit, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle, Wexford. Email: organicunit@agriculture.gov.ie Phone: 053-9163400

Minister English urges Meath towns to apply for Artisan food opportunities

Farming, Food, Funding

New fund also available for Social Farming


Today I want to welcome a new community based competitive funding process for local and artisan food markets. The funding under the Department of Agriculture is one of the delivered actions of the Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas Report chaired by noted GAA pundit and player Pat Spillane.

The funding, which is being allocated on a competitive basis, is open to all rural towns and villages with populations of up to 10,000 and offers potential funding of between €5,000-10,000 for development of existing or start-up local food and artisan markets.

Meath is a becoming a player in the national and international food markets. We have some of the best restaurants in the country, along with quality natural producers of increasing prominence locally, nationally and internationally. The Boyne Valley Tourism Conference earlier this year gave a major insight into how our food reputation was a major part of the County’s Tourism offering and attraction to visitors. Gary O’Meara and his team at Meath Enterprise are also highlighting Meath’s potential to become the Boyne Valley Food Hub – a food innovation and research centre of national standing.

The development or expansion of local food and artisan markets in Meath will compliment all of this work, and supports rural development in its own right too as it helps stimulate commercial and retail activity in rural high streets as well as developing a strong sense of community involvement and achievement. That is why I am urging Meath towns to apply.

In a separate delivered action of the Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas Report funding is now available for Social Farming initiatives in Meath. Social farming is the practice of offering, on a voluntary basis, farming, horticultural and animal related work experience as a choice to people who avail of a range of day support services. This CEDRA fund will provide up to 75% grant aid for initiatives that support social farming operations on family farms or in institutional settings. A funding range of €10,000-20,000 is envisaged for approved projects.

Both schemes have limited funding, so proposals will be selected on a competitive basis against the other proposals received and the funds stated objectives. These schemes are being advertised nationally and in local papers. Application forms and fuller schemes details can be found on the Department’s website at the following links:

www.agriculture.gov.ie/cedra/socialfarming and www.agriculture.gov.ie/cedra/localfoodmarkets

The closing date for applications under both schemes is Friday 14th August 2015. Online applications only are being accepted.

English launches Pan-European research team to unearth pathways to sustainable land management

Farming, Food, Research and Innovation

“Making the most of our land” – English

imgres-2Launch of LANDMARK

The Pan-European research project LANDMARK was launched this week in
Castledockrell, Co. Wexford, Ireland, by Meath T.D. and Minister
Damien English, T.D., Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation.
LANDMARK is a brand new consortium of European researchers and
advisors that will seek to unearth practices and policy pathways that
make the most of Europe’s rich and diverse heritage of soils, which
are key to so many ecosystem services. LANDMARK receives €5 million in
European funding from the European Commission as part of its Horizon
2020 Research Programme.

Is Europe running out of land?

At the launch, Teagasc Director Prof Gerry Boyle explained that
LANDMARK addresses one of the most urgent challenges for European
agriculture: “the number of mouths to feed from each parcel of land
continues to rise. But the ecological footprint that we can afford
ourselves continues to shrink. Last autumn, the UN revised its
projections for population growth: the world’s population is no longer
expected to stabilise after 2050, instead it is now expected to
continue to grow and approach 11 billion people by 2100. These new
figures will certainly fuel the debate whether the world, including
Europe, is ‘running out of land’.”

The LANDMARK coordinator, Dr Rachel Creamer from Teagasc added: “Not
only do we expect Europe’s agricultural land to provide a nutritious
diet for all; we also expect it to provide clean water, to store
carbon, recycle our waste and provide a home for biodiversity. These
competing demands have now brought soil science sharply back into
focus. If we are to make the most of our land, we need to understand
the ‘engine room’ of agriculture in all its diversity.”

Towards sustainable practices and policies

LANDMARK aims to do exactly this: it will open up the soils of Europe
and assess farm practices and policies that optimise the delivery of
food and other ecosystem services. Since both the European food system
and ecosystems do not recognise borders, LANDMARK has taken an
international approach: it will bring together all the knowledge on
land management from European farmers, advisors, scientists and policy

By 2020, LANDMARK will produce three outcomes:

– For farmers: a Soil Navigator that provides advice on the
sustainable management of soils on ‘my farm’;
– For legislators: a framework for monitoring of soil quality and soil
functions that is applicable across Europe;
– For policy makers: an assessment of policies that can ensure that we
‘make the most of our land’, from both an agronomic and environmental
point of view.

Example of innovation

LANDMARK is an early example of the European Innovation Partnership,
where scientists, practitioners and policy makers work together to
generate new knowledge that can be put to use. At the launch, Minister
of State for Skills, Research & Innovation, Damien English, TD, said:
LANDMARK demonstrates Ireland’s international leadership in research
and innovation in the area of Sustainable Food Production. I
congratulate Teagasc for winning this first, highly competitive call
for research. Teagasc has demonstrated that it is possible for Irish
research institutions to assume a leadership role in securing funding
under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme”.