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Gildernew announces opening dates for agri-environment schemes

4 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has launched the new Countryside Management Scheme in Newcastle, County Down.

At the launch the minister announced that the new scheme will open to applications from 30 June to 29 August 2008. She also confirmed that the Organic Farming Scheme will open from 1 September to 31 October 2008.

Announcing the schemes, the minister said,

"I have chosen County Down to make today's announcement because the first agri-environment scheme was launched here 20 years ago. I hope the new scheme can build upon the success of the past and will offer a firm footing for farming and the environment in the years ahead.

"My department's commitment to improving the environment and countryside is reflected in the £219million that has been made available for the new Countryside Management Scheme and Organic Farming Scheme. The schemes, which are part of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, will deliver on a number of areas including biodiversity, water quality, landscape and heritage.

"I want to congratulate the 13,000 agri-environment participants who are currently making a difference to our countryside and I consider this new scheme to be an opportunity to deliver real environmental benefit." ENDS

If you would like to know how to apply to these schemes contact your local DARD office.

Notes to Editors

  1. Under Axis II of the NI Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, the Agri-environment Measure 2.2 consists of two key elements - the new and improved Countryside Management Scheme (NICMS) and the new Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).
  2. Funding of £219million is available for the agri-environment measure to 2013.
  3. More information about the scheme will be available for interested landowners at a series of farm walks organised by DARD Countryside Management Branch throughout each county.
  4. The scheme application process will be paperless as a means of increasing efficiency and reducing bureaucracy.

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