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de Brún 'hopeful' after meeting EU Commissioner on Farm Nutrient Management Scheme extension

14 November, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning met with European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel to discuss the extension of the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme which is due to come to an end on November 30th.

Ms de Brún described this morning's meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg as 'very successful'. She said that she had good news for farmers in the wake of her meeting with Commissioner Fischer-Boel

Speaking this morning Ms de Brún said:

"This morning's meeting was at my request so that I could press for an extension to the deadline for the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme which is due to end on November 30th.

"I conveyed the concerns which many farmers have that they will be unable to meet the requirements of the Nitrates Directive if the deadline is not extended. Environmental organisations are also concerned about the damage to the water environment if the necessary work is not carried out. While some farmers are in the process of having the necessary work done, thousands have still to begin work.

"Commissioner Fischer-Boel was very positive in her response to me and she expressed a willingness to see this issue resolved satisfactorily. The Commissioner told me that new state aid guidelines are due to be agreed by the Commission on December 6th and that when these are agreed an extension should be possible. When I pressed her on what would happen to those in the present scheme she agreed that it would be unfair to penalise people because of a short gap following the present end date of 30 November. The Commissioner assured me that those already in the scheme at present are safe.

"In the meantime, I have sought to progress the matter further with the European Competition Commissioner Nellie Kroes, as it is this section of the Commission that deals with the state aid guidelines.

"It is also essential that DARD and DoE ensure that when there is an extension, as now seems certain, they put sufficient money into the scheme to ensure that all who wish to carry out the necessary work are in a position to do so." ENDS

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