Shane McEntee T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for the forestry, horticulture and greyhound sectors has recently welcomed the allocation of almost €112 million for the 2012 forestry programme, €3.5 million for the Commercial Horticulture sector and €11.3 million for Bord na gCon.
The funding announced for forestry programme in the Estimates for 2012 will be augmented by a carryover of capital savings from 2011. He pointed out that “the provision by the Government of almost €112 million is a reflection of the importance attached to an industry that provides employment opportunities predominantly in rural communities for more than 16,000 people, in the growing, harvesting and processing of forest products”.
Minister of State McEntee further stated “Despite our economic difficulties, the Government recognises the importance of forestry to the economy, as evidenced by the maintenance of funding for the sector at levels close to what was provided in 2011. Our 2012 funding is strong evidence of the Government’s commitment to forestry at a time when there are significant adjustments in all areas of public expenditure. The allocation covers afforestation grants, ongoing premium commitments and the support schemes, which are vital for the successful management of the forest estate. Timber as a raw material is in demand and this demand has the potential to increase significantly over the next 20 years, where in addition to the traditional outlets in the wood processing sector, the demand for wood energy has continued to increase”.
Minister of State McEntee added “Funding for approximately 7,000 hectares of planting, as well as for the other schemes in the programme has been provided. As ever, the principal task will be to spend the money both efficiently and effectively for the benefit of the sector and the wider economy”.
With regard to Horticulture, Minister McEntee went on to say that “notwithstanding the on-going tight Exchequer finances, I am delighted to announce continued Government support for the Horticulture Sector during 2012. €3.25 million has been allocated for the fifth round of the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector, which is funded under the National Development Plan (2007-2013)”.
This aid, which is set at 40%, (50% in the case of young farmers), of total eligible capital investment, will fund projects in commercial horticulture undertaken during 2012. The scheme covers all horticultural sectors – protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruit, apples, beekeeping and, mushrooms. Minister McEntee added “The Scheme is aimed at assisting growers to efficiently produce high quality products to meet the increasing demands of a very competitive market. It will also contribute to increasing Irish fruit and vegetable consumption towards the recommended target of 5-a-day as part of a healthy diet”.
Bord na gCon
In relation to the greyhound sector Minister of State McEntee observed “Greyhound racing is a traditional industry which plays an integral role in the rural landscape of this country both socially and economically. The greyhound racing industry is a very significant one in this country responsible for sustaining in excess of 10,000 full and part-time jobs directly and indirectly, many in rural communities. With seventeen racing tracks throughout the country and greyhound owners, breeders and trainers in every county in the country, the economic benefit of the industry is well distributed geographically. The industry injects an estimated €500 million into local economies”.
Minister of State McEntee added that “the funding provision made for Bord na gCon in the Budget demonstrates the on-going commitment of the Government to this very important industry, one in which Ireland excels”.