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Gildernew Announces Plans For Countryside Management And Organic Farming Schemes
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DARD Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has announced her plans for progressing the Countryside Management Scheme (CMS) and the Organic Farming Scheme.

CMS provides financial support to farmers and landowners for adopting farming practices which enhance the countryside.

Announcing details of CMS, the Minister said, “Following the Executive’s agreement on a draft Budget, around 2,300 CMS applications will be progressed. This allows us to sustain the level of land under environmental enhancement agreement at 42%. These applications will be drawn from the 4,800 applications that were received in 2010.”

Minister Gildernew went on to explain all of the eligible CMS applications will be prioritised using a set of criteria based on environmental benefit. These new agreements will commence from 1st January 2012.

She said: “My Department will contact all applicants to let them know what is happening with their application. I was overwhelmed by the tremendous response when the CMS opened in 2010. This shows that farmers really do want to make a difference by managing their land in an environmentally sensitive way.”

The Minister also explained that subject to approval from the NIRDP Monitoring Committee and EU, new CMS agreements will last for five years. This change would apply to new CMS agreements signed in 2011 and would be consistent with similar schemes in the south of Ireland and Britain.

Minister Gildernew also announced the Organic Farming Scheme will open later this year. She said, “Plans for this scheme are being finalised at the moment and I will announce the application dates in the coming months. I encourage all farmers who are interested in converting their land to organic production to consider applying to this scheme.”