Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must deliver a well-financed and ambitious Rural Development Programme (RDP) in the forthcoming CAP negotiations – that was the clear message from this week’s IFA National Rural Development Committee meeting.
As a first priority it is vital that the funding available in the current RDP is fully utilised, Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady said.
“Minister Creed appears to be in denial about the fact that, as the situation stands, not all funding will be used. IFA has identified underspend across a number of schemes, in particular in TAMS, and to a lesser degree in Knowledge Transfer, GLAS, the Sheep Welfare Scheme and other measures.
“The Minister has got to realise that his hand will be strengthened in the CAP Budget discussions at EU level if the full RDP allocation of €4bn, which includes €2.1bn of EU funds, is fully utilised over the 7 years of the programme up to 2020.”
Joe Brady said it is unacceptable that the EU Commission is proposing to cut the EU funding and the co-financing rate in the RDP post-2020. At the level of EU funding proposed, to maintain the €4 billion RDP budget currently available, Ireland’s national contribution would have to increase from €1.8 billion to €2.24 billion.
IFA is proposing that the RDP for CAP post-2020 increases by 25% to €5bn over the period 2020- 2027. This would cover IFA proposals for:
- an increased annual allocation of €300 million for ANCs;
- a new agri-environment scheme with a payment of up to €10,000 for farmers, involving a whole farm payment and higher payments for those with designated Natura land;
- measures to help young farmers; and,
- a strong on-farm investment scheme.
Joe Brady said significant details in the proposed EU legislative framework will have to be worked through to make farm schemes more effective so that they have a greater impact on farm income.
He said, “Minister Creed has go to show his teeth at Cabinet level to argue the case for a strong RDP post-2020, with additional national co-financing. The importance of establishing a robust RDP is critical as this is a 7 year programme and sends a strong signal to farmers about the role the Government sees for ongoing Rural Development supports, particularly for areas which have not benefited from the recent economic upturn.”