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Ferris criticises closing of Farm Improvement Scheme

7 November, 2007

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD raised the closure of the Farm Improvement Scheme in the Dáil today. Deputy Ferris criticised the decision by Minister Mary Coughlan to accept no more applications and called for the necessary funding to be made available to ensure that all applicants are catered for.

Deputy Ferris said, "The decision by the Government to close the Farm Improvement Scheme is an act of bad faith. Farmers were encouraged to apply and many have done so in order to make the improvements required to farm buildings, storage facilities and fencing that are mandatory under ever more stringent regulations.

"Indeed many farmers would not be able to afford such investments were it not for the availability of grants and they were encouraged by the Department to believe that compliance with new regulations would be aided by such a scheme. By arbitrarily closing the Scheme Minister Coughlan has left many farmers in a position where they may not be able to afford new capital investments and may therefore not be in a position to comply with certain regulations.

"That will further undermine the ability of many farmers to remain competitive and viable. I am calling on the Minister, therefore, to ensure that the funding is made available to ensure that all genuine applicants are catered for as they were given to understand they would be when the Farm Improvement Scheme was announced." ENDS

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