Farmers have delivered a clear message to Government TDs over the week-end, following a 50% cut in the funding for the promised AEOS Scheme. Hundreds of farmers, whose incomes will be devastated as a result of this decision, met with their TDs locally and highlighted their anger at the failure of the new Government to deliver the promised AEOS Scheme, similar to last year.
IFA President John Bryan said, “There is huge anger among farmers on the ground, who were promised the Scheme would be similar to last year. The Minister’s first major decision has left farmers very disappointed. He 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.”
The meetings with TDs followed an emergency IFA Executive Council in Portlaoise on Friday, which heard strong criticism of the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney for his failure to deliver a meaningful AEOS Scheme, which was announced in last year’s Budget and promised to farmers in the recent General Election.
John Bryan 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.”
IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley said 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.”