IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady, has urged Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, to move urgently on getting the Locally Led Agri-environment scheme up and running and to ensure that farmers are the main beneficiaries of this scheme.
The Locally Led scheme is the last element of the 2014-2020 RDP to be implemented and farmers in certain areas expect that they will benefit from the scheme.
Speaking in advance of a National Rural Network meeting in Athlone today, which will discuss this issue, Joe Brady said that the allocation of funding for Hen Harrier areas must be increased to ensure a meaningful scheme can be put in place. In addition, significant allocation must be made to Locally Led schemes in hill areas and in other designated areas such as the Shannon Callows and Fresh Pearl Mussel areas.
Indications from the Department that this scheme will be rolled out over a period of time are not acceptable and IFA wants the tendering process to be put in place for all areas over the next month to six weeks so that schemes can be in place from 1st January next.
At a recent meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Joe Brady told the Department of the urgency in making use of the €70m available, given the severe income crisis on many farms.
IFA was told that, of the €70m in the 2014-2020 RDP, €15m is allocated to the Burren Scheme, €35m is allocated to Hen Harrier and Fresh Pearl Mussel with the remaining €20m allocated to other projects on a tendering basis. These will include upland areas and other designated areas that come forward with an environmental management plan.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said it is important that the schemes are put together without delay. Payment must be meaningful and should involve support for management actions that the farmer understands.