Following requests from the Irish Farmers Association and other relevant parties, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has announced the re-opening of the AEOS scheme.
AEOS is a targeted agri – environment scheme and is part-funded by the EU under the Rural Development Programme, 2007-2013. The objectives of the scheme are to promote biodiversity, encourage water management and water quality measures, and combat climate change.
The funding for the newly re-opened scheme will be €20 million which is only slightly down from the €25 million allocated in previous years. Despite this, the Minister said that only minor changes would be made to the re-opened scheme.
The scheme works by “delivering an annual income to farmers in return for farming to high environmental standards”. Priority is given to farmers of commonage land, designated Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.
Successful applicants can receive a maximum of €4,000 per annum, but, due to the fact that the majority of farmers do not receive the maximum payment, the Minister hopes that the re-opened scheme can accept up to 6,000 new participants.
In previous years, farmers participating in the scheme have had to choose one of three environmental objectives: biodiversity; water; or climate change. They are then required to choose at least two actions, taken from a menu of 18 options, within their chosen field.
Minister Coveney expressed his pleasure in re-opening the scheme describing it as “attractive to farmers while also delivering real, worthwhile environmental benefits in the areas of bio-diversity, water quality and climate change”.