Criteria for Disadvantaged Area Payments Must Be Flexible – IFA

IFA President John Bryan said the unacceptable cuts in the allocation for the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme must not impact on farmers who are struggling to derive an income in these areas. “The cut will affect farm incomes and it is up to Minister Coveney to ensure that active farmers are fully protected in the changes to the eligibility criteria for payment.”

Mr. Bryan said, “On the minimum stocking level, it is important that farmers in environmental schemes are not affected as stocking levels are already set out in their 5-year Plan.  Also, farmers on marginal land must continue to be eligible if the stock carrying capacity of the land is limited.”

The IFA President said that in relation to the proportionate payment between Disadvantaged Areas and non-Disadvantaged Areas, if a farmer’s main holding is in the Disadvantaged Areas, they should not be impacted by this new rule. “Farmers in Disadvantaged Areas, in order to sustain their viability, have to be allowed to secure additional land in non-Disadvantaged Areas without penalty,” he said.

Mr. Bryan said that it is important that the rules governing Disadvantaged Area payments are sorted our immediately as the stocking calculations commence from January next. The appeals mechanism must be fair and efficient.

On REPs, the IFA President said there must be an AEOS scheme next year for farmers leaving REPS3.  “With 13,000 farmers leaving REPS 3, it is vital that AEOS is available for all famers who want to continue with their agri-environmental plans. A new AEOS scheme must be introduced in early 2012.”

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