At a meeting in Brussels, IFA has received confirmation from the EU Commission that Ireland’s seven-year €4bn Rural Development Plan has been passed technically and letters of comfort to implement all outstanding measures will be issued shortly.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said it was now vitally important that the outstanding schemes such as TAMS, Knowledge Transfer, Beef Data and Genomics, targeted agri environment schemes and ANC improvements on off shore islands are implemented without any further delay. It is now up to Minister Coveney to ensure that farmers have access to all schemes under the RDP.
Flor McCarthy said that the Commission have indicated that annual amendments can be made to the RDP commencing in 2015. This will be important to address some schemes which may not be working effectively and to include issues which IFA have raised with the Department of Agriculture over the last nine months.
At the same meeting, IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne said that one of the issues which has to be addressed is securing a payment for private non designated mountain land which the current GLAS scheme excludes. Also the GLAS+ €2,000 top-up should be available to more farmers and the targeted output scheme should play an important role for farmers who have a lot of designated land.
Pat Dunne said that the flexibilities in place for commonage farmers should ensure that more farmers in these areas will qualify for the maximum payment of €5,000. The Commission again confirmed that the payment for commonage areas will be paid on the gross area which will be important for increasing the payment at farm level.
In relation to Leader, Flor McCarthy said that the EU Commission told IFA that they are insisting that the tendering process which has now been initiated by the LCDCs at County level must operate in a fair way and that existing Leader companies must have every opportunity to qualify to secure the opportunity to operate Leader in their area in the next five years.