IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has called on the Minister for Agriculture to make significant changes to the Rural Development Programme to ensure that there is full utilisation of the €4bn available to the Programme over the seven-year period.
In a detailed Submission to the Department of Agriculture, IFA has called for significant changes to the GLAS scheme, which will open again in the autumn for up to 15,000 farmers. This will bring the total number of famers in the scheme to over 50,000 and this will have a significant impact on farm income, if further changes are made.
Among the changes IFA is proposing is an increase in payment rates for a number of measures including commonages and Natura areas. In addition, IFA wants a reversal of the cuts to the GLAS II when the area qualifying for low input grassland was halved and hedge planting was suspended. IFA wants the low input grassland restored to 10ha.
Joe Brady said that with only around 15% of farmers so far qualifying for GLAS+ an opportunity exists to increase this significantly. This can be done through allowing farmers who have significant Natura and commonage land, as well as tillage farmers who take on the catch crop measure, into the scheme.
In relation to TAMS, IFA is calling for the inclusion of additional items for grant aid. These include: underpasses, meal bins, maintenance of field drainage systems, rubber mats as well as specific measures for pigs and poultry. Also, IFA wants greater flexibility in the definition of Young Farmers to qualify for a higher rate of grant.
On ANCs, Joe Brady is calling for the €25m allocated in the Programme for Government to be implemented in 2017.
IFA has also made proposals in relation to the inclusion of the Sheep Scheme worth €25m in the Plan, as well as changes to Organics, Producer Organisations and the implementation of the Locally Led Agri-environment Scheme.