IFA President John Bryan has led a delegation of county chairmen and officers from the West of Ireland at a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to highlight the devastating impact of cuts in the AEOS scheme for farmers especially in SAC and Natura areas.
After a lengthy discussion, Minister Coveney agreed to re-visit the AEOS Natura payment of €150 per hectare once the Expenditure Review has been completed at the end of July. He also confirmed his commitment to securing the low Nitrogen application level on the Species Rich Grassland measure.
John Bryan said the Minister was left in no doubt that this was a critical issue for farmers in the regions affected. “The Natura payment that was promised as part of AEOS1 in 2010 must apply, and also for those who joined AEOS2 this year.”
The IFA President urged the Minister to work with his colleague, Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan, on a number of other issues raised by the delegation, including the review of the stocking levels laid down in the Commonage Framework Plan.
IFA Hill Committee Chairman Tom Fadian said farmers in hill areas feel let down as the AEOS agri-environment payment does not reflect the severe restrictions in the designated areas. Land will be abandoned if a proper agri-environment scheme is not put in place.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley told the Minister the cutback in AEOS2, combined with delays in payments due in 2010, had led to farmers questioning the Government’s commitment to the environment scheme. The Minister must implement the higher Natura payment of €150/ha to 6,000 AEOS farmers who have SAC land, as they joined the Scheme in the expectation that this payment level would be honoured.