At a meeting of island farmers in Galway today, IFA called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to put meaningful top-ups across all farm schemes to reflect the increased costs that off shore island farmers incur in carrying out their farming activities. Representatives from Bere, Aran, Inishbofin and Clare attended the meeting.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said the RDP 2014-2020 must substantially increase the payment rates in schemes such as GLAS, Areas of Natural Constraints (formally Disadvantaged Areas) and the farm investment scheme TAMS.
IFA Islands’ spokesman Jack Sullivan from Bere Island said the cost of production on island farms is up to 40% higher, which has a dramatic effect on farm profitability. “Increasing the payments rates for all schemes would improve the livelihoods of island farmers and make them more sustainable in the future.”
In addition, he called for an ongoing investment in the island infrastructure including ferries and piers. Farmers must have better access to the market and costs must be kept down.
Flor McCarthy said the higher rates will be indicated in advance of the RDP been submitted.
The Department of Agriculture attended today’s meeting and agreed to take on board the farmers concerns and agreed that the new rate would be included in the RDP before the end of June. Other issues discussed include the new CAP Pillar I payments, commonage stocking levels, Farm Assist and the Leader programme.