IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy led a delegation to meet the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise yesterday to discuss the RDP Amendments, which will be formally sent to the EU Commission shortly.
Richard Kennedy said an opportunity exists to improve aspects of various farm schemes such as TAMS and GLAS to ensure that farmers can benefit from a wider range of measures and that the €4bn available in the RDP up to 2020 is fully utilised.
On TAMS, Richard Kennedy said that a number of additional items should be added into the scheme, including feed bins for all livestock sectors, underpasses, rubber slat mats, and changes to the Pigs and Poultry scheme.
In addition, Richard Kennedy said that more Young Farmers should benefit from higher grants. IFA has proposed a special grant for farmers who exceed the 5-year rule but who are aged less than 40. This would help address the problem where Young Farmers have been farming for more than 5 years but have missed out on the 60% grant rate.
At the same meeting, Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady, pressed for the early opening of the GLAS scheme to allow in excess of 17,000 farmers to join the scheme. This would bring the total number of farmers in the scheme up to nearly 55,000.
IFA also proposed various changes to the GLAS scheme to allow farmers to benefit to a greater extent, including GLAS+, extending the payment for green cover for tillage farmers, increasing the priority areas under the water and bird measures and higher payments for farmers with Natura land.
On commonages, IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne, said that as much flexibility as possible must be given to ensure that all farmers on hills can avail of payments to the maximum. He stressed to the Department the importance of opening up the application process for planners to complete commonage management plans. Where commonages still do not have a planner, no farmer should be denied entry into the scheme.
On 2016 GLAS payments, Joe Brady said that there must be no delay in the payout to 38,000 farmers who are due a full year’s payment later this year. IFA estimates that around €167m is due to farmers under GLAS and this will be a significant boost to farm income.