IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley has criticised the decision of the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to cut vital income support schemes to around 50,000 farmers.
In relation to AEOS, Mr Turley expressed disappointment that the Minister has not given a more firm guarantee of a scheme in 2012. “With 13,000 farmers leaving REPS 3, it is vital that AEOS is available for famers who want to continue with their agri-environmental plans. A new AEOS scheme must be introduced in early 2012.”
Mr Turley said the cut of 10% in REPS 4 payments will affect farms who have more significant environmental investments under contract on their farm and who are dependent on the REPS payments to meet loan liability associated with this investment.
On the Disadvantaged Areas cut, Tom Turley said this will impact on low-income farmers who are very dependent on the payment to support their income.<span> He called for technical to take account of productive farmers as well as recognising environmental constraints placed on stocking.
On Farm Assist, he said, “The decision by the Government to change the assessment process will hit low income farmers hardest. A married farmer with 2 children stands to lose €2,500 per annum as a result of the changes.”
Mr Turley has welcomed the re-opening of TAMS and in particular the Dairy Equipment and Sheep Handling + Fencing Grant schemes, where demand for investment is high. These schemes must be reopened immediately.
Concluding, Tom Turley said the farm schemes are vital to underpin agricultural production and sustain the rural economy. “The cuts in REPS and Disadvantaged Areas will have a negative effect on rural Ireland taking up to €50m out of the rural economy. The Minister must return this money through a properly-funded AEOS scheme for 2012.”