IFA President John Bryan held a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney last night where he said there were serious shortcomings in the new AEOS Scheme. Mr Bryan highlighted the negative impact of the decision to reduce the number of farmers eligible and the maximum payment for AEOS in 2011. He said the Minister must re-examine the Scheme and look at ways to increase the number of farmers who can qualify at last year’s rate of payment.
John Bryan said that reversal of a Budget decision is simply unacceptable. “Fewer farmers will qualify for the Scheme, and those who do qualify will get a lower payment than what was promised. The main group affected will be 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 REPS3 Plan before the mid-May application date. Agri-environment payments such as AEOS and REPS are a vital part of the farming system, supporting farm incomes and adding greatly to the environment and the wider rural economy. Farmers around the country are extremely annoyed that the AEOS has been watered down by Minister Coveney.”
At the same meeting, IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley told Minister Coveney that a significant number of farmers who are likely to apply will now be rejected. The reality is that for many farmers, the reduction in payments for farmers leaving REPS and joining AEOS will amount to an average of €3,000. For a low-income sector of farming, this is a devastating blow and is significantly acute in SAC and commonage areas where farming activities are severely restricted.”