IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has insisted that all of the funding of €624m allocated to RDP measures for 2018 in this week’s Budget must be used across the wide range of schemes, which play a vital role in supporting farm incomes.
Joe Brady has welcomed the increased allocation of €25m for ANCs and €20m for TAMS, and the allocation of €234m for agri-envronment measures. However, he said, it is vitally important that underspends that have arisen in recent years do not recur. Also, the 2017 allocation must be fully used as otherwise there will be a repeat of the handing back of funds to the central exchequer, which occurred last year.
In relation to TAMS, the IFA Rural Development Chairman is urging all farmers who have completed work to make their claim for payment as soon as possible as the 2017 allocation of €50m is far from spent. So far this year, €21m in grant aid has been paid out and it is important that this funding is fully utilised before year-end.
In relation to the allocation for agri-environment schemes, the breakdown of the 2018 allocation will be €211m for GLAS, €6m for AEOS, €10.5m for organics and €11.5m for locally led schemes, including the Burren and Hen Harrier areas.
“It is important that the Minister for Agriculture pays out as much GLAS money over the coming months to the 50,000 farmers in the scheme to avoid eating into the 2018 allocation,” Joe Brady said.
Commenting on ANCs, the IFA National Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne said the increased allocation of €25m is welcome and will go some way to reversing cuts that hit hill farmers hard in 2009. The ANC scheme is a vital lifeline for hill farmers, along with other direct payments. Pat Dunne called for payment levels in 2018 to reflect the natural handicap of the land.