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€100m delay in Leader funding

Rural communities are losing out on beneficial development grants because the Environment Minister Phil Hogan is persisting with a block on new projects under the LEADER programme, Fianna Fail agriculture spokesperson Eamon O Cuiv claimed.

"In the Dail last month, Minister Hogan finally agreed to lift the embargo on the approval of new LEADER projects within 10 days," claimed Mr O'Cuiv. "But three weeks later, there is still no sign of him doing this.

"At present there is €100m of funds that must be sanctioned by the end of the year or the money will be lost," said the Fianna Fail spokesman.

"The longer the minister drags his heels on this, the more likely it is that money available to Ireland from Europe for rural development will be lost to this country."

Pig farmers welcome move

Pig farmers have welcomed an extension to the deadline for submission of applications to the TAMS sow housing scheme to May 3, 2013, announced by Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, last week.

IFA national pigs chairman Pat O'Flaherty described the extension as a very positive move, as farmers were experiencing serious problems in obtaining planning permission and loan approval.

"It is very important that the Department of Agriculture discuss the reasons behind the delay with their colleagues in the Department of Environment," said Mr O'Flaherty.

"County councils must act immediately to prioritise pig units that need planning permission so that they can avail themselves of the grant aid. Farmers must invest heavily in their units to comply and yet will not gain a cent extra in the price of their product."

Horse breeders go head to head

Dozens of young horse breeders will go head to head in the National Young Breeders Competition, which will take place at Teagasc Kildalton on April 20.

Organised by Teagasc, Horse Sport Ireland and Connolly's Red Mills, the competition is aimed at encouraging young people to become actively involved in breeding, presenting and assessing mares and young horses and to identify young people with the potential to become judges/ inspectors.

The results of the national competition will be used to select a panel of potential team members to represent the Irish Sport Horse Studbook in the WBFSH Young Breeders World Championships in Sweden in July.

The closing date for applications to the national competition is Friday, April 12. Contact or call 091 845291.

Irish Independent