asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about his plans to implement the European Community farm structures regulation No. 797/85.
We have today laid before the House three statutory instruments which will implement this regulation. The Agriculture Improvement Regulations 1985 will, if adopted by Parliament, govern from 1 October the payment of farm capital grants for which part funding is available from the EC. Grants under these regulations will be paid to eligible farmers on a broad range of agricultural investments at basic rates of 15 per cent. in the lowlands and 30 per cent. in less-favoured areas; on tourism and craft works in hill areas at 25 per cent.; and on environmental improvements at 30 per cent. in the lowlands and 60 per cent. in the less-favoured areas. Young farmers under the age of 40 may qualify for increased rates of grant. The agriculture improvement scheme 1985 will from 1 October 1985 provide nationally funded grants for environmental works, including, for the first time, poultry waste disposal facilities, and, in fulfilment of a continuing Government commitment, for horticulture. The scheme also closes the agriculture and horticulture grant scheme 1980 to expenditure incurred after today and specifies deadlines for grant claims. In most cases, the deadline is December 1985, but for some land improvement works and for orchard replanting this is extended to 1988. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development (Amendment) Regulations 1985 amend grant rates under the Agriculture and Horticulture Development regulations 1980 for new applications received between now and 1 October. The new rates under these regulations are, in general, those which will apply under the new arrangements from 1 October.