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New Entrants Scheme

29 October, 2004

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed indications that the new entrants scheme will be responsive towards the needs of smaller farmers.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The department has now outlined the parameters of the New Entrants Scheme. I welcome that it appears that the scheme will be responsive to the needs of smaller farmers.

"New entrant must come up with a project, these must be viable and the lending institution will be the main decision maker in whether or not the project will be acceptable. DARD will then meet interest repayments of up £15,000 will on any loan for any farm holding with a 0.5 livestock unit.

"This means that any farmer participating in the scheme can be part-time or full-time and the income of part-time farmers can be taken into account along with their spouse. This should build greater flexibility into the scheme and with appropriate support create the scope for development of non farming economic activities.

"It is also important that any deposit taker is classified as a lending institution. His again gives greater opportunity to prospective new entrants.

"New entrants with enthusiasm and new ideas coming into the farming industry are vital not just to the industry but also to the future of our rural economy and communities. There are many challenges facing our rural communities and it is important that we do everything possible to both keep young people living in rural communities and provide good opportunities to bring even more young people and young families into the countryside." ENDS

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