IFA President Eddie Downey said that the 2014-2020 RDP plan is an opportunity for the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to tackle the issue of low farm income by putting in place meaningful schemes which farmers can participate in.
Speaking in advance of a meeting with Minister Coveney next week, Eddie Downey said the new GLAS scheme must be attractive for farmers to join and payment rates across all the measures must ensure that most farmers qualify for the maximum €5,000 payment. Up to 30,000 farmers will have left REPS 4 by the end of the year and it is vitally important that the new agri-environment scheme has a similar positive affect on farm income.
The IFA President said that the RDP commitment on co-financing by the Government must be confirmed in next October’s Budget. “EU/National funding for farm schemes this year is over €400m. This must increase to over €500m in 2015 which will take account of the new GLAS, ANCs and TAMS. This can be done without any additional national co-financing as the EU funding increases as part of the new RDP.”
Meanwhile, IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said that the implementation of the plan is critical and the Minister must ensure that farmers are in a position to apply for the new schemes in the autumn. “In the case of GLAS, contracts must commence on the 1st January to allow payments in the latter part of 2015. In addition, removing the 140kg N/ha limit for priority access to the scheme is vital as this effectively puts farmers who traditionally have joined agri-environment schemes at a disadvantage.”
On commonages, Hill Farming Chairman Pat Dunne said that the collective agreement must be taken off the table by the Minister. “Management plans including stocking levels which farmers can participate in must form part of the new regime for commonages in the new GLAS. Also, the payment level for commonages must increase to €150/ha.”