IFA Rural Development Chairman, Tom Turley, has urged the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to press the EU Commission, as a matter of urgency to get agreement to proposals made by the Department of Agriculture last July, on significant changes to AEOS.
Mr. Turley said these changes involved increasing the Natura payment from €75/ha to €150/ha and the use of low levels of Nitrogen on the Species Rich Grassland measure. These changes were promised to farmers and EU approval must now be pursued so that the benefits are passed.
On this year’s AEOS scheme, the IFA Rural Development Chairman said that flexibility must be shown by the Department of Agriculture in accepting applications given the delay in implementation and the uncertainty among farmers on whether they will get into the scheme due to the selective criteria. Farmers are being forced to pay planners to join a scheme which they may or may not get into.
Continuing Mr. Turley said with next Monday’s closing date for applications every effort must be made by the Minister to ensure that the funding available is fully utilised. The earlier expected application levels will not be achieved as farmers weigh up the merits or otherwise of the scheme.
On last year’s AEOS payments Mr. Turley called for the immediate pay-out of €8m to 9,000 farmers who have had their payments held up as a result of computer difficulties. Farmers can’t afford to wait any longer and these farmers should now be paid manually. Also the remaining 25% of REPS 4 payments due to farmers since last October must be paid immediately.