IFA National Rural Development Committee Chairman, Joe Brady has called for the Department of Agriculture to ensure the full utilisation of all EU and national funding in the Rural Development Programme (RDP) by making necessary changes to schemes and improving payments in the annual review to the EU Commission.
Speaking following a meeting with senior Department of Agriculture officials, Joe Brady said in the forthcoming amendment to the RDP 2014-2020, the Department must prioritise a significant increase in the allocation for ANCs, additional items for TAMS grants, and the drawdown of maximum funding for the sheep sector.
In relation to ANCs, IFA told the Department that the additional €25m promised in the Programme for Government must be delivered in the upcoming Budget. Restoring payments to pre-2009 levels must be the priority and IFA expects the allocation for ANCs to increase to €230m next year.
On TAMS, Joe Brady called for additional items to be included in the schemes such as underpasses, feed bins for all sectors, farm roadways, new buildings for the pig & poultry sectors and rubber slat mats. IFA also presented a case for an increase in the investment limit for the intensive sectors and an immediate review of standard costings.
At the same meeting, IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman, John Lynskey told the Department that IFA is seeking additional funds under the Sheep Welfare Scheme in Budget 2018. He also called for all funding under the Sheep Scheme to be used through the inclusion of new entrants.
IFA National Hill Committee Chairman, Pat Dunne said that commonage farmers who increase their sheep numbers as part of the management plans must be paid on these sheep. In addition, he said, hill farmers deserve a higher level of payment.
IFA also called for changes to the Knowledge Transfer Scheme, the re-opening of GLAS to new entrants, and improvements to the Organic Scheme,
In conclusion, Joe Brady said that spending on the RDP at the mid-term point is not on course and stressed the necessity for payments to be made on time, particularly under TAMS and GLAS schemes.