IFA Rural Committee Chairman Tom Turley has described the row back by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney on not increasing the AEOS Natura payment from €75 to €150/ha as unacceptable and will result in around 6,000 farmers getting a lower payment than they expected when they joined the scheme .
Mr. Turley said “This decision combined with cutbacks to the funding for AEOS 2 questions the commitment of Minister Coveney to the agri-environment scheme. Already the funding for the scheme in 2011 had been halved and now farmers in designated areas are being left high and dry with the failure to implement decisions that were made last year”.
“It is ironic that a proposal on this issue had been made to the EU Commission last July. It would appear that Brussels had no problem with increasing the payment but the Minister has unilaterally decided not to implement it. The credibility of making any case to Brussels in future is now damaged. The increase in payment reflected the higher cost of compliance in SACs, SPAs and non-Natura commonages”, he said.
Mr. Turley said due to destocking and other farming restrictions, farmers in these areas must have a payment level which reflects the restrictions imposed. All of the costs associated with designation must be compensated for as farmers in these areas are at a disadvantaged compared to lands which are non-designated.