IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley said the projected targets for AEOS 2 set down by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney will more than likely not now be met.
Mr Turley said that the cutbacks in the scheme announced by the Minister in early April have led to farmers questioning the merits of the scheme. With the closing date now passed, the Minister must now strive to revitalise the scheme in advance of next year’s application date.
The feedback from planners throughout the country to IFA is that the level of interest from former REPS 3 farmers is around 50%, with a smaller number of other farmers interested. “Cutbacks in payments and changes made without consultation have definitely impacted on uptake as the costs of the measures outweigh the payments under the scheme.”
Mr Turley said that proposals to the EU Commission to increase the Natura payment from €75 per ha to €150 and allowing traditional fertilisation on species rich grassland must be followed up. “This proposal was made to the EU Commission in July 2010 and all indications suggest that there are no objections to the proposals. The Minister must deliver on these changes immediately so that they can apply under AEOS 1 and AEOS 2.”
Tom Turley said the failure to pay so far any of AEOS 1 payments for 2010 is also a major blow to the credibility of the scheme. The Minister must now instruct his Department to pay out €8m due to up to 9,000 farmers for last year’s scheme