Reacting to the announcement today by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin on Department of Agriculture spending for next year, IFA President John Bryan said the cuts to REPS4, and changes to the terms and conditions in Disadvantaged Areas and Farm Assist, are a direct €50m hit on farm incomes, and flies in the face of the contribution agriculture is making to jobs and exports in the economy.
John Bryan said, “The option of entering an AEOS3 scheme in 2012 must be available to all farmers leaving REPS3. In addition, there has to be a mechanism through an appeals system for the Disadvantaged Areas, which caters for all those farm families affected by the changes. The Government commitment to maintain support for forestry and the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme will underpin production in these sectors.”
“Funding for beef discussion groups and the voluntary BVD Eradication Programme will drive efficiency and improve animal health at farm level. The TAMS Scheme must be re-opened immediately to facilitate on-farm investment.”
John Bryan said the introduction of a capital-asset test for higher education grants must exclude agricultural land as it would deny access to higher education to many students from farm families.
Mr Bryan said households would be affected by the new charges and cuts in services announced today, and he urged the Government to ensure that services for rural dwellers are maintained.
The IFA President said the decision to impose a new dairy marketing levy comes as a shock as dairy farmers have not been consulted and already pay a marketing levy to the IDB. “Dairy farmers must be fully consulted and will need a lot of convincing on why this levy is justified and how this money is going to be spent.”