19 Feb 2014
IFA PRESS MINISTER COVENEY FOR EARLY IMPLEMENTATION OF CAP RURAL DEVELOPMENT MEASURES
At a meeting this week with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, IFA President Eddie Downey presented IFA’s proposals on the CAP Pillar II Rural Development Plan and he called on the Minister to ensure the early implementation of the new schemes, which are a vital support to low-income farmers throughout the country. The full drawdown of €580m per year of EU and national financing must be drawn down in the lifetime of the programme up to 2020.
Eddie Downey told the Minister that the key priority must be to ensure that the new agri-environment scheme GLAS is attractive for farmers to apply for and that the maximum number of farmers can achieve the €5,000 payment. In addition, he said that farmers in Natura and Commonage areas must have the opportunity to be eligible for the GLAS plus scheme where an extra €2,000 is available.
The IFA President also told the Minister that a broad based farm investment scheme must be in place for all sectors of farmers. “This scheme, which must open in the autumn of this year, should include a wide range of eligible items for grant aid at a rate of 40% (with a 20% top-up for Young Farmers).”
At the same meeting, IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said that the details on the GLAS and farm investment schemes must be sent to Brussels for approval in the next 4-6 weeks which will allow sufficient time for the schemes to be in place from 1st September next. He said, “Farmers in all regions of the country, and in particular those on low-incomes, expect that the Rural Development Programme will play a significant impact in supporting their incomes over the next seven years”.
IFA National Sheep Chairman John Lynskey told Minister Coveney that the proposal to incorporate the Sheep Grassland payment into the Single Farm payment of flock owners was a problem for the sheep sector as it erodes the additional value and benefit of the scheme and this would have to be addressed.
John Lynskey said Minister Coveney has agreed to re-examine this proposal. The IFA Sheep Chairman said the original €18m value of the grassland scheme must be fully protected for sheep farmers in order to maintain the national ewe flock and the payments to farmers cannot be diluted through convergence over time.
IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary said it was crucial that the Minister would leave no stone unturned to try and ease the burden of superlevy on dairy farmers before 31st March 2015. “While the Minister claims support for additional soft landing measures is now forthcoming from an increased 11 member states, the political numbers still fall far short of the qualified majority required for change. My advice to farmers is that they must continue to limit their superlevy exposure by planning for no change before March 15,” Mr O’Leary said.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said that the €80 per cow/calf payment under the new beef genomic scheme from 2015 was positive for the suckler sector. He said it was essential that the cost to farmers was kept to a minimum and the level of genotyping did not exceed 15% of the herd.
IFA Grain Chairman Liam Dunne said the Minister must provide clarity on leased entitlements so farmers can plan their business and production. Liam Dunne also raised the greening issue and said tillage farmers would have to have maximum flexibility.