IFA President John Bryan has sought an urgent meeting with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to outline the gravity of his decision to reduce the number of farmers eligible and the maximum payment for AEOS in 2011.
Mr. Bryan said that rowing back on a Budget decision is unacceptable as up to 2,000 farmers will now not be able to join the scheme and those who do qualify will get a lower payment than what was promised. The decision will be devastating for low income farmers who depend greatly on direct supports such as AEOS.
The IFA President said “Up to 10,000 farmers will have completed their REPS 3 Plan before the mid-May next application date. The agri-environmental payment is an integral part of the farming system, supporting farm incomes and adding greatly to the environment and the rural economy.”
Commenting on the decision, IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley said that reducing the numbers in the scheme will mean that many farmers who will apply will be turned down. Over half of farmers who are likely to apply will now be rejected as a result of the Minister’s decision. Also reducing the maximum payment by €1,000 is a major blow to low income farmers and the problem is significantly acute in SAC areas where farming activities are restricted.