Following last night’s meeting in Tuam, IFA Connacht Regional Chairman Tom Turley said a number of outstanding concerns relating to the new Rural Development Programme remain, which the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney needs to urgently address.
He said, “The over-riding priority must be that the new GLAS and TAMS programme are open before year end, and funding delivered in October’s Budget so that up to 30,000 farmers are paid a full-year payment in 2015”.
IFA remains opposed to the 50% collective agreement rule. While progress was made on the initial RDP proposal that 80% of all farmers would have to participate in a collective agreement on the commonages, IFA does not accept the Minister’s current position that 50% of active farmers, or 50% of the commonage area, has to be included to secure priority access.
Tom Turley again called on the Minister to review this issue. He said IFA will hold the Minister to his commitment that in the event of the collective agreement not being achieved in any commonage for legitimate reasons, active farmers affected will still get priority to participate in GLAS.
The IFA Regional Chairman said the Association has fought very hard to secure €580m per annum for the next seven years, and at least 50,000 farmers will have access to the new, €5,000 GLAS Scheme.
“Progress has been made on most of the key issues relating to GLAS, including the increase in the commonage payment to €120 per hectare which will benefit smaller farmers, and eligibility to the GLAS+ payment. However, the Minister must address the Natura payment issue and bring it up to other designation payments. The absolute priority is to get the scheme open and secure the Budget for thousands of farmers in vulnerable sectors and regions who need support.”
IFA remains fully committed to ensuring that all farmer concerns, including those on the hills, are fairly addressed. Tom Turley again called on the Minister to announce a start-up date for the Commonage Implementation Committee.