Speaking following a meeting of the IFA Rural Development Committee today in Dublin, Chairman Flor McCarthy said Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has left thousands of farmers in a precarious situation for 2015 because the allocation to the agri-environment scheme falls short of what is required. 30,000 farmers will have exited REPS 4 between 2013 and 2015, and it is vital that they have a scheme available to them next year with a meaningful payment, McCarthy insisted.
Flor McCarthy called for the early introduction of the new GLAS scheme with a significant payment in 2015. The IFA Rural Development Chairman said the Minister’s proposal to only pay 3 to 4 month payments next year will lead to a massive income loss on thousands of farms, which depend greatly on direct payments.
Addressing the allocation for the agri-environment scheme in 2015, only €60m of the €150m allocation relates to payments actually due next year for AEOS farmers. Between the carryover of REPS and AEOS due from this year, this means that the impact of the environmental schemes on farm income will be at its lowest in many years.
On TAMS, Flor McCarthy said that the farm safety scheme worth €12m of unused money is a worthwhile and necessary measure and must open immediately.
In relation to TAMS II, the early approval of the RDP by the EU Commission is necessary as there is a pent-up demand across all sectors including Beef, Sheep, Dairying, Pigs and Poultry for necessary on-farm investment.
In relation to Areas of Natural Constraint, Flor McCarthy said that the €195m allocation must be increased over the coming years to take account of previous cuts and to recognise more fully the natural handicaps that farmers face in certain areas.